No charge of frivolity against the Australian Research Council will ever stick. Last month the ARC announced fine-tuning changes to the engagement and impact profiles which universities must submit next year (CMM November 1). And now the ARC has codified the whole process in four just-the-thing-for summer-beach-reading handbooks on who in universities must do what to meet requirements.
People who have followed the debate over engagement and impact in research assessment for the last five years recognise the need to ensure the terms are tight and the process isn’t gamed.
Impact and engagement appal advocates of basic-research orthodoxy who hope the first run falls in a heap of generalities. Supporters of the process would like to see industry-linked metrics more important in setting status and securing funds than publishing prestige in Excellence for Research in Australia. The ARC has to keep everybody happy.