Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Engagement and Impact Assessment (EI 2018)

What is it?

The Australian Government launched its National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) in December 2015. One of the measures within the agenda was for Australia to introduce a national impact and engagement assessment, to examine how universities are translating their research into economic, social and other benefits and encourage greater collaboration between universities, industries and other end-users of research. Such assessments already exist in other countries. For example, the UK's Research Excellence Framework (REF).

In line with the NISA announcement, the Australian Research Council (ARC) coordinated an Engagement and Impact Assessment Pilot (EIAP) in 2017. The ARC is currently reviewing the EIAP submissions, including analysing the engagement and impact assessment methodologies and incorporating feedback from university, industry and end-user participants. This review will inform the development of the first full national assessment (EI 2018), which will run alongside the current Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) in 2018.

The unit of assessment for both engagement and impact components of EI 2018 is the 2 digit Field of Research (FoR) within an institution based on the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification (ANZSRC).

ARC definitions

End user – A beneficiary of research beyond academia (e.g. industry, government, non-governmental organisations, communities and community organisations). Bodies (such as government funding agencies) who are disinterested in the specific outcomes of the research funded are not considered by the ARC to be end-users.

Engagement - Interaction between researchers and research end-users for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge, technologies and methods, and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

Impact - The contribution that research makes to economy, society and environment, beyond the contribution to academic research.

What is assessed?

The specifications for EI 2018 are yet to be released, but are likely to encompass all 22 FoRs, plus an indigenous case study, and an interdisciplinary case study. Similar to the EIAP, EI 2018 is likely to assess engagement and impact as separate components.

For EIAP, engagement was assessed by FoR using quantitative indicators that included:

  • Patent and patent citation data
  • Research outputs
  • Research income (including in-kind)
  • Co-supervision of HDR students

A supplementary narrative was also prepared to describe the engagement activities for each FoR, and to provide context for the engagement indicators.

The impact pilot used case studies to;

  • Demonstrate the approach to promoting the translation of research into impact
  • Detail claims and evidence of impact beyond academia
  • Outline the associated research

Further information on the EIAP and EI 2018 is available at the ARC website.

Reference periods

The engagement reference period for EIAP aligned with the ERA 2015 and ERA 2012 research income and applied measures reference periods, and the ERA 2015 research output reference period. It is likely that EI 2018 will use the same reference period as that used for EIAP.

EIAP Reference period – Engagement component

Data Type

Reference Period


Engagement Indicators

1 January 2008–31 December 2013


Engagement Narrative

1 January 2008–31 December 2013


The impact case studies for the EIAP described specific impacts that occurred during the reference period. A reference period was not specified for approach to impact, but the approach was retrospective and within the context of the impact study.

EIAP Reference period – Impact component

Data Type

Reference Period


Impact description/evidence

1 January 2011–31 December 2016


Associated Research

1 January 2002–31 December 2016


How is the submission prepared?

The CSU submission for EI 2018 will be prepared over many months alongside ERA 2018. The engagement data will be sourced from multiple CSU systems, with overarching narratives written by key staff within each discipline (FoR). The impact case studies will be also be written by key staff within each discipline (FoR), using a combination of project-based data, and information collected and stored in the CSU Research Output repository (CRO).

The governance structure for EI 2018 will be released in the near future.

What can I do to prepare?

To assist preparations for EI 2018, the following actions should be undertaken;

  • Add all publications to CRO
  • Populate data fields for 'Discipline Assignment' (i.e. FoR)
  • Add Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) to publications in CRO (where DOI is available)
  • Ensure that the Scopus profile linked to your CRO account is yours
  • Link your CRO profile with your ORCID ID
  • Populate your CRO profile with evidence of impacts from your research, plus any other supporting information and activities (e.g. news media, testimonials, events)

The instructions for how to add items to CRO are here.

Where can I get more information?

Dr Jamin Forbes

Research Impact Officer


x 34163