Engagement and Impact Assessment Pilot

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On 21 November 2016, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training, announced the Engagement and Impact Assessment Pilot. The Engagement and Impact Assessment is part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), a whole of government initiative that was announced in December 2015.

The Engagement and Impact Assessment will run as a companion exercise to Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). ERA will continue to assess research quality, acknowledging and encouraging ‘blue sky’ research, while the Engagement and Impact Assessment will consider: research interactions with industry, Government, non-governmental organisations, communities and community organisations; and research contributions to the economy, society and environment.

While the new Engagement and Impact Assessment aims to incentivise universities to focus on improving their engagement and the translation of research into wider economic, social and other benefits, it is important to emphasise that the ARC remains committed to supporting both the highest-quality fundamental and applied research. This new assessment will complement ARC’s existing policies and programs, which together support research activity across the full spectrum, from fundamental to applied research.

The Engagement and Impact Assessment pilot will take place in the first half of 2017. It will test the proposed approach (methodology and processes) for the full engagement and impact assessment, ahead of a national roll-out in 2018. It is not designed to be an end-to-end assessment, but will test the robustness of a wide range of indicators and methods of assessment of both engagement and impact.

The framework for the pilot has been developed by the ARC and the Department of Education and Training through the Engagement and Impact Steering Committee and two supporting Working Groups—comprising leaders from universities and industry, as well as experts in research assessment. There has also been extensive public consultation and targeted consultation with stakeholders from the university sector, industry and other research end-users.

The pilot will test a matrix of engagement indicators, alongside an engagement narrative that will be used to provide context for these indicators. It will also allow universities to provide additional quantitative information, where relevant—to allow the ARC to consider new indicators for subsequent rounds.

The assessment of research contributions to the economy, society and environment will be piloted through impact studies that will describe the research underpinning the impact, the university’s approach to impact and details of the impact.

The ARC has written to all 42 universities informing them of the pilot and inviting them to participate. For more information on the Engagement and Impact assessment pilot, visit the ARC website.