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).
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.
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:
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;
Further information on the EIAP and EI 2018 is available at the ARC website.
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
1 January 2008–31 December 2013
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
1 January 2011–31 December 2016
1 January 2002–31 December 2016
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.
To assist preparations for EI 2018, the following actions should be undertaken;
The instructions for how to add items to CRO are here.
Dr Jamin Forbes
Research Impact Officer