Australian Catholic University is required by the Commonwealth Government to report on the research outputs of all of its academic staff and students and to attest to the accuracy of the report, including in relation to how research outputs are classified. The Commonwealth of Australia allocates research funding to ACU based on the data in the report.
Information on research activity is collected and maintained on the University’s research information system. Academic staff members report their research activity information to ACU and these data are verified, maintained and monitored for compliance with HERDC specifications. ACU may be subject to audit at any time on the report.
2. Glossary of terms
a. HERDC - Higher Education Research Data Collection b. ODVCR - Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research c. Research – is defined in accordance with the Government expectations as contained in HERDC specifications and ERA Guidelines
The definition of research and how it should be interpreted is provided in documentation provided by the Commonwealth Government in order to ensure accurate reporting through HERDC.
In 2014, the Commonwealth Government defined research as
“…the creation of new knowledge and/or the use of existing knowledge in a new and creative way so as to generate new concepts, methodologies and understandings. This could include synthesis and analysis of previous research to the extent that it leads to new and creative outcomes.
This definition of research is consistent with a broad notion of research and experimental development (R&D) as comprising of creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humanity, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications.
This definition of research encompasses pure and strategic basic research, applied research and experimental development. Applied research is original investigation undertaken to acquire new knowledge but directed towards a specific, practical aim or objective (including a client-driven purpose)”.
3. Policy Purpose
This policy forms part of the University’s governance framework for the classification and re-classification of research outputs. It outlines the roles of the author, the faculty and ODVCR in the finalisation of an output’s classification. This policy will ensure that the classification of research outputs meets definitional standards.
4. Application of Policy
4.1 Current staff
a. Once an output is in its final form and ready to be recorded in the ACU research information system (see Research Publication Policy), the lead ACU author will complete the ACU HERDC Research Data Collection Form, providing the specifications of the output. On this form the author will also select the appropriate classification for that output (A1, etc.).
b. The Research Data Collection Form will be attached to the particular output and forwarded to the Executive Dean of the faculty (or Associate Dean Research; ADR) for endorsement.
c. Endorsed submissions will be forwarded by the faculty to the Manager, Research Reporting in ODVCR.
d. Where the faculty Executive Dean (or ADR) does not endorse the staff member’s recommendation on classification the ADR will provide an explanation to the staff member as to the new classification.
e. Where a dispute arises, or where the ADR is unsure of the classification of a particular output, the following processes will apply:
i. The Executive Dean (or ADR) will request a written statement (maximum 1 page) from the staff member articulating the rationale for the originally proposed classification. ii. A faculty panel (appointed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research) will review this new information and the research output in question and make a recommendation on the classification of the output. iii. The Executive Dean (or ADR) will be the Chair of the panel. iv. Should this review support the staff member’s proposed classification, the faculty will forward the output to the Manager, Research Reporting, for recording. v. Should the review not support the staff member’s proposed classification, the faculty will forward the output and the staff member’s rationale to the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) for further review. The DVCR may seek such advice as deemed necessary for the classification of the research output. vi. The decision of the DVCR will be final and there will be no further appeal. vii. Following the review by the ODVCR, the output with its final HERDC classification will be forwarded to the Manager, Research Reporting, for entry into ACU’s research information system. The output will be entered into the HERDC collection or the University collection.
4.2 Newly appointed staff
a. Data will be entered for the preceding six years only. b. It is the responsibility of the faculty to complete publication data entry to level two verification entry stage including its classification. This should be done within three (3) months of the staff member’s appointment. c. Where the classification of an output is not clear, or where there is disagreement with the staff member regarding the classification of an output, then the steps described above in section 4.1 (d) will apply.
4.3 Annual Audits
The ODVCR will conduct a regular audit of the classification of research outputs and may at any time refer a research output to the DVCR for a review of its classification.
5. Roles and Responsibilities
a. It is incumbent on a faculty to provide information sessions to its staff on how expert peer review panels interpret the def inition of “research” as specif ied by HERDC and ERA. b. The faculty provides central oversight of the correct classif ication and submission of all outputs for the HERDC and University collections. c. The Vice-Chancellor, on the advice of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, provides f inal conf irmation to the Commonwealth Department of the accuracy of ACU’s research data collection.