Submission—Research Quality Framework: The preferred model

On 4 October 2005, the Australian Academy of Science made the following submission to the Department of Education, Science and Training on Research Quality Framework: The preferred model.

The Australian Academy of Science welcomes the latest milestone in the development of the emerging model for the Research Quality Framework (RQF).

The Academy has consistently argued that block funding schemes should reward research quality, research outcomes (including long-term outcomes) and impact. The Academy welcomes the commitment to redistribute all the Institutional Grants Scheme (IGS) funds and at least half of the Research Training Scheme (RTS) funds under a framework that recognises research quality. As is broadly acknowledged, the current formula-driven funding works against cooperation and specialisation; formula funding is a recipe for homogeneity and wasteful duplication.

The Academy supports the Expert Advisory Group’s resolve that the RQF will be underpinned by transparency, acceptability, effectiveness and encouragement of positive behaviours. The Academy suggests that in refining the details of the RQF the following additional principles should be given due consideration.

The RQF should:

  • Recognise the value of research partnerships, between disciplines and institutions.
  • Recognise and support excellence wherever it occurs.
  • Develop mechanisms that recognise and reward long-term as well as short-term impacts.
  • Be alert to potential vulnerabilities among early-career researchers and for emerging disciplines.
  • Articulate clearly the RQF arrangements for institutes, including medical research institutes, that are affiliated with universities.
  • Guard against game-playing. In particular, the proposition that adjunct researchers may be included for rating purposes, but not for funding purposes, is open to abuse.
  • Specify a minimum size for research groupings so that the RQF process is not used for individual staff promotion or demotion. Such matters must remain the responsibility of the employing institution and not the RQF.
  • Contribute significantly to public and scientific awareness of the excellence of the Australian scientific enterprise.

The Academy welcomes the staged, progressive implementation of the RQF and remains keen to assist the Expert Advisory Group in evaluating how research quality ratings would translate into funding outcomes.

© 2021 Australian Academy of Science