[Aqualist] Research Assessment Framework
hhx at ansto.gov.au
Fri Apr 15 09:56:12 EST 2005
This is importance for those of us who work at research intsitutes and universities.
Society representatives may be aware of the issues paper, Research Quality Framework: Assessing the quality and impact of research in Australia, which forms part of the consultation process that will lead to advice to Government on options for a model or
models of a Research Quality Framework (RQF) for publicly funded research. The Government's Expert Advisory Group, chaired by Professor Gareth Roberts, released this paper in March 2005.
FASTS will make a substantial submission on the RQF. The following principles were proposed to the FASTS Board yesterday as the basis for developing a response (N.B. several amendments were accepted during the Board meeting, and the revised documents will
be available shortly). Could you please contact FASTS Executive Director Bradley Smith if you or your organisation has a contribution on this topic, or if your society is considering a separate submission.
FASTS believes that the Research Quality Framework should:
1. Be clear, transparent and credible
The purpose of the RQF must be clear in terms of its purpose, instruments and relation to funding decisions. The results must be readily available and viewed as credible by the researchers and institutions and by domestic and international stakeholders.
2. Reward and promote quality research wherever it is conducted.
The institution should not be the only or most important unit of measure.
3. Recognise differences between disciplines and research practices
It is well recognised that the methods used to measure the quality of research outcomes can vary between disciplines. However, there is considerably less discussion around the differences in research outcomes due to quite different research modes within
the same disciplines ie the measures for some basic research in physics are not necessarily relevant or useful to assess the quality of, say, applied research in physics in a CRC.
4. Provide for judgment and risk
There is a potential danger that the RQF will operate conservatively by over emphasizing track records at the expense of raw potential. Any funding regime informed by the RQF must allow for flexibility and judgment on emerging ideas and emerging talent.
One way to achieve this, for example, is to limit the share of the research quantum filtered through the RQF so that institutions and research centres have some flexibility and autonomy.
5. Promote collaboration
The RQF should encourage collaboration so that resources are used efficiently. This includes encouragement and recognition of fertile international linkages.
6. Have a global perspective
Research is increasingly globalised and many meaningful research benchmarks are international. Accordingly, the RQF should allow for regular and constructive international benchmarking.
7. Minimise compliance, transaction and administrative costs
An RQF must seek to minimise any compliance costs and all transitional costs should be funded by new money.
8. Maximise positive side-effects
The introduction of a system to measure research quality will inevitably affect behaviour as researchers, administrators and institutions respond to the mechanisms. The RQF needs to be carefully tuned to ensure that any changes in research activity have a
positive impact on research quality and perverse outcomes minimised.
9. Be equitable for early career researchers
The RQF must not act as a barrier to ECRs or other cohorts who need access to research funding.
Please note that capital city consultations are being held in Hobart on April 18, Sydney on April 19, Brisbane on April 20, Adelaide on April 21, Melbourne on April 22 and Canberra on April 26. See www.dest.gov.au/resqual <http://www.dest.gov.au/resqual>
for further information. Submissions close on May 2nd.
A national stakeholder forum is planned at the Shine Dome Canberra on June 2nd.
Mike Smith, AGC President
Dr Henk Heijnis
Program Leader Isotopes in Geo & Hydrosphere
Institute for Nuclear Geophysiology
President of the Australasian Quaternary Association
Adjunct Professor Quaternary Science (UTS)
PMB 1 Menai
2234 NSW Australia
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