The Government will pilot ways to measure the impact of university research and their engagement with business and industry in 2017 after opening applications for institutions to take part ahead of a national rollout of the assessment system in 2018.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the pilot was the next step in the Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda to ensure that taxpayer funds were being targeted at research and initiatives that would ultimately pay dividends for Australian young people, old people, mums and dads.
“The ‘Engagement and Impact Assessment’ is about incentivising the smart and talented people working in our labs and universities to better focus on research that has wider economic and social benefits,” Minister Birmingham said.
“We have worked closely with university and business and industry stakeholders to develop the framework for the assessment with a range of public consultations, surveys and face-to-face meetings to identify what we can measure that we can see and touch to determine how engaged and impactful Australian research will be.
“This is about testing how we can measure the value of research against things that mean something, rather than only allocating funding to researchers who spend their time trying to get published in journals.”
Minister Birmingham said the Engagement and Impact Assessment Pilot would test the robustness of a wide range of indicators and methods of assessment for both research engagement and impact. It will include both quantitative and qualitative information, and will involve universities, industry and other end-users of research.
“We’re also conscious of keeping the burden of too much reporting and paperwork to a minimum for universities who take part in the pilot and so the testing in 2017 will sample across different disciplines of research,” Minister Birmingham said.
For ‘engagement’, the disciplines that will be tested by the pilot include chemical sciences, medical and health sciences, history and archaeology, and philosophy and religious studies. For ‘impact’ the disciplines will include environmental sciences, agricultural and veterinary sciences, engineering, education, studies in creative arts and writing, and language communication and culture.
“We will review the pilot—including analysing the engagement and impact assessment methodologies and incorporating feedback from university, industry and end-user participants—to inform the development of the full assessment,” Minister Birmingham said.
Participating universities are expected to make their pilot submissions to the ARC in May 2017. A review of the pilot will be reported in late-2017.