Policy makers and the broader community reasonably expect assurance that their investment in research in universities is directed to best effect. Australia has an extensive framework for managing the allocation and use of resources for research on a competitive, quality and ethical basis. Peer review – the assessment of research proposals by panels of experts – is a crucial element and guarantee of the quality of that system. The investments we make as a nation in high-quality, curiosity-driven, peer-reviewed research are critical for Australia’s future prosperity and wellbeing and deserve rigorous and balanced scrutiny.
In 2010 the Australian Government established an evaluation of research in universities, the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). Universities Australia continues to support ERA as a valuable means of assessing and monitoring the quality and volume of research conducted in Australia. The next ERA process is expected to be undertaken in 2015.
Universities Australia also believes there is considerable potential for identifying and assessing the various impacts of research. Those assessments should inform refinements in the research process to optimise the benefits to the Australian community from our research efforts.