Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Time for a New Measure of Research Impact

By Margaret Hartley

We need to measure industry engagement as well as publications.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane set off a small storm recently when he suggested that university researchers should receive research grants based on the number of patents they register, rather than the number of papers they publish.

Shadow Minister Kim Carr attacked his comments, saying that Macfarlane’s approach would have deprived the world of inventions such as WiFi, which were produced as a result of basic, curiosity-driven Australian research.

Macfarlane is on the right track. Ultimately, as a nation, we hope that the research conducted in our universities leads to new technologies and applications, even if that wasn’t the original intent of the research.

Additionally, it has been demonstrated that the establishment of the ongoing collaborative relationships between researchers and business help drive innovation within companies. Collaboration also helps introduce new products to our markets. To encourage this, our researchers need incentives to engage and collaborate with business, as it is the commercial sector that translates the results of research into applications.

Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, who recently visited Australia, tells us that “what you measure affects what you do. If you don’t measure the right thing, you don’t do the right thing.” Perhaps nowhere is this netter illustrated than in Australia’s research sector....

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.