Jig is up for gaming the research system

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency finalises its advice on research performance, closing a debate on how to measure research needed for existing institutions to keep their university title and new ones to qualify

Universities older than a decade must meet quality benchmarks for research in 50 per cent of fields of education (minimum three). Others must get there in a decade.

The measure of research performance will be world (or Australian specific) standard.

“World standard” as now set by the Australian Research Council is pretty average (CMM November 6 2020). But this could be about to change, depending on what the present Sheil Review of the Australian Research Council recommends for performance measurements for the Excellence in Research for Australia metric.  Whatever happens, TEQSA, “processes obviously will adapt to any research regime changes implemented by the Australian government.”

There has been speculation that some teaching-focused unis may struggle to meet the minimum research field requirement but what could be harder is maintaining the research governance culture – which TEQSA will look for. The tests will be meeting the legislated research threshold standards, including, research staffing and oversight, integrity and oversight, productivity, or “other evidence of sustained research quality.”

And lest anybody think smoke and mirrors can disguise what isn’t being done, the regulator sets out seven strategies of which it will take a dim view, including; “insufficient investment of resources in research necessary to maintain research quality over the period of a provider’s registration … for example, casual employment of high-profile researchers for part of a year to augment the provider’s research profile and output when the researcher is under the auspices of another provider.”

Which strikes CMM as TEQSA speak for the jig is about to be up for anybody who hopes to game the research system.