This workshop was held on Wednesday 28 September 2016.

At the end of last year the Government announced it will develop a new national framework for the assessment of the engagement and impact of university research. The new framework is part of its National Innovation and Science Agenda, and will be run by the Australian Research Council (ARC) alongside the Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) assessment (Click here for more information).

Partly responsible for this change is Australia’s poor performance in university/industry research collaboration. The new assessment framework will “examine how universities are translating their research into economic, social and other benefits and incentivise greater collaboration between universities, industry and other end-users of research”. A stakeholder consultation took place earlier in 2016, and a pilot assessment is planned for the first half of 2017.

The aim of this workshop was to consider how the mathematical science research community should respond to the fact that its engagement and impact activities will be assessed. It has started a  discussion on

  • What engagement and impact mean in the context of mathematical sciences
  • How impact and engagement should be measured
  • Current structures for industry collaboration and how these can be built upon
  • How “blue sky” research fits into the picture and how the engagement and impact of fundamental research can be measured

The workshop discussions resulted in a response to the ARC consultation,  submitted to the ARC on 10 October 2016, on behalf of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute and the Australian Mathematical Society and the ARC Centre of Excellence of Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers.


Workshop speakers

Ms Leanne Harvey, ARC Acting Chief Executive Officer

Professor Kerrie Mengersen, Australian Laureate Fellow, Queensland University of Technology, Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS) – Read Powerpoint presentation

Professor Geoff Prince, Director of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) – Read Powerpoint presentation

Professor Tim Marchant, Professor of Applied Mathematics and Dean of Research, University of Wollongong, President of the Australian Mathematical Society (AustMS) – Read Powerpoint presentation

Professor Jacqui Ramagge, Head, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Sydney – Read PDF presentation

The workshop and afternoon panel discussion was moderated by Professor Peter Taylor, Australian Laureate Fellow, University of Melbourne, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS)

Further reading

Here are some links, including to past discussions which relate to this matter, that you might find interesting or useful:

Tony Dooley, Math Matters, AustMS Gazette May 2004

Peter Taylor, The Mysterious Process between Theory and Applications, Math Matters, AustMS Gazette November 2004

Alan Carey, Michael Cowling, Peter Taylor, Assessing research in the mathematical sciences, AustMS Gazette May 2007

Eric Lander, The Miracle Machine: Transcription of a talk for the National Math Festival, 16 April 2015

UK Research Excellence Framework 2014 impact case studies: Making It Count: Improving the Census

UK Research Excellence Framework 2014 impact case studies: Shaping UN-backed Reforms to China’s Reproductive Health and Family Planning Policies

Jan de Gier and Tony Guttmann, Discovery for discovery’s sake pays the biggest dividends, Australian Financial Review, September 4th 2015

This workshop was a collaboration between AMSI and ACEMS.


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