End of an ERA, but ARC still working on what is next

The government has dropped one of the big previous measures of research performance, Excellence for Research in Australia and the Sheil Review of the Australian Research Council Act recommends the ARC come up with a replacement – the Council is on to it.

A fair swag of the new review of ARC grant performance (separate story, this issue) addresses how to measure outcome bangs for funding bucks. It’s an issue Education Minister Jason Clare is keen on – he wants a way to measure the “impact value” of grants (Future Campus, August 23 HERE).

Professor Sheil and colleagues recommended leaving that to the ARC, although they are flat-out against “a so-called light touch metrics-based exercise” – this may be why Mr Clare asked her “for some more work on research evaluation” and why the new ARC grant review sets out a context, “extend beyond a compliance exercise by having a clear purpose, strategically aligning with government priorities and information needs, and meaningfully driving decision making (rather than being a simple compliance exercise).

It proposes three credible ways to help

  • a grant impact evaluation framework: “develop agreed metrics with stakeholders, drawing on existing research and innovation metrics,” – (proposing aligning them with the now no-more ERA)
  • strengthen impact data collection and reporting: “primarily information is currently collected via final reports, which collect data on outputs, outcomes and impacts within 12 months of project completion. Additional impacts are likely to emerge after this time that are not currently captured.”
  • data driven approaches: “connect to external data sources and metrics to supplement ARC impact data collection – adapt approaches over time as metrics and data sources improve”

And then there is a fourth;

  • “ enhance the communication and understanding of research impact – regularly communicate the impact of research in an engaging, and targeted way for audiences using data and case studies.”

Gosh, why hasn’t anybody tried that already?



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