Extract from an article by Tim Dodd
The Australian Research Council is pushing to simplify the way the real-world impact of university research is measured when a new assessment system for research starts next year.
After a pilot program among 39 universities, the council says in a report published today that it has responded to feedback by reducing the number of “engagement indicators” being measured in order to reduce the administrative burden of the new system.
The Turnbull government promised in its National Innovation and Science Agenda nearly two years ago it would introduce a new system to assess how well university researchers worked with business and other groups outside academe. “The outcomes of the assessment will encourage universities to improve their collaborations with industry and will promote high-quality research that will drive innovation and economic prosperity,” the government said at the time.
More than $3.5 billion in federal government grants go to university research each year and, commenting on the new report, federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said taxpayers expected to see dividends.
In its report, Engagement and Impact Pilot 2017, the ARC says there will be a three-point assessment scale — low, medium and high — to measure the real-world engagement of a university’s research in a particular area.
Universities will be assessed on their engagement with outside bodies, excluding other universities or their affiliates, and public research agencies such as the CSIRO.
The ARC report also widens the types of impact with outside bodies that will be recognised, to include cultural impact, which is added to economic, societal and environmental.
But though the number of engagement measures has been reduced, the system remains complex as there is other data that universities can call on, if they choose, including the number of patents granted and in-kind support from outside groups.
Furthermore, in each research area, or unit of assessment, universities will be able to add a statement of up to 1000 words to describe their engagement activities, strategy and objectives. They can use “other qualitative or quantitative information” to back their case that their research programs are engaging with outside groups, and justify the inclusion of this other data with another 750-word statement.
The ARC said it was still working on a methodology to measure funding grants by outside groups that use university research.
The amount of income a university earns from research commercialisation also will be included but probably only in science, technology, engineering and maths disciplines..(continues)
SOURCE: Tim Dodd, “Australian Research Council aims to simplify definition of research impact”, The Australian, 01 NOvember 2017
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia