EI is a companion exercise to Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA), developed to assess how well university researchers are engaging with end-users and translating their research into economic, social, environmental, cultural and other impacts.

The inaugural 2018 EI invited universities to submit an engagement narrative and impact study for each two-digit FoR code for which they reached the assessment threshold. There were three components to the assessment: engagement, impact and approach to impact.

Research engagement is the interaction between researchers and research end-users outside of academia, for the mutually beneficial transfer of knowledge, technologies, methods or resources.

While there are many forms of research engagement, and these vary across disciplines, examples include:

  • Collaboration with industry or research partners, such as:
    • co-location of industry on campus
    • embedded staff or staff exchange
    • industry-focused conferences and workshops
    • development of university business units.
  • Public participation (citizen science): collaborating with public volunteers to expand opportunities for the collection of data as well as disseminating scientific information and findings to the public.
  • Providing specialist resources and services to external stakeholders: access to highly specialised equipment, infrastructure and other resources – as well as advice and guidance – providing industry with a market advantage, improving research outcomes and increasing the employability of graduates.
  • Provision of specialist training or trainee programs: provision of training material, training and trainee programs to stakeholders and research end-users (from on-the-ground workers to senior staff, domestically and internationally).

Engagement with researchers benefits the community by bringing much-needed expertise to solving complex real-world problems. It improves the health, wellbeing and prosperity of individuals, organisations and communities.

Engagement with end-users benefits researchers by enabling them to understand and solve real-world problems, providing access to research participants and intervention sites, and increasing the competitiveness of their grant applications.

What is a research end-user?

A research end-user is an individual, community or organisation external to academia that will directly use or directly benefit from the output, outcome or result of the research. Examples of research end-users include governments, businesses, non-governmental organisations, communities and community organisations.

Research impact is the contribution that research makes to the economy, society, environment or culture, beyond the contribution to academic research. Impactful research makes a real difference in the world beyond academia; it improves the health, wellbeing and prosperity of individuals, organisations and communities.
Approach to impact is where the university provides details on how it facilitated the impact. The aim of this section is to highlight the mechanisms and strategies the university had in place to support the translation of the research into the impact described in the study.

EI 2018

For the inaugural Engagement and Impact assessment ACU submitted six impact studies and under eight FoR codes for engagement. The results of the assessment were announced in March 2019 with ACU recognised by the Australian Research Council (ARC) for its significant impact in advancing health, education and social outcomes for Australians.

Learn more

EI 2024

The next Engagement and Impact Assessment (EI) will take place in 2024. The ARC is reviewing the assessment and will inform universities of the outcomes and requirements in due course. ACU Engagement is collecting engagement data and identifying impact studies for EI 2024. Contact the Research Engagement team for more information.


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