Research impact: The gap between commitment and implementation systems in national and institutional policy in Australia
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This paper seeks to investigate how well research for community and social benefit is recognised and supported in policy in Australia at a national and institutional level. A desk-review of national policy since the late 1990s was conducted, including policy statements, reviews, and key public documents of the statutory bodies responsible for the national quality framework for research and national competitive grants program. The strategic and research plans of universities across Australia were also analysed. While there is a strong national commitment to research impact, the focus in implementation is predominantly on research quality (academic outputs and grant income). The majority of university strategic plans had a high-level stated commitment to research impact, but focussed almost exclusively on research income, publications and rankings in terms of implementation. Even amongst those institutions found to have a stronger policy commitment to research impact, systems to support and measure it were weak. Resolving this gap between stated commitment and implementation systems in policy at both national and institutional level is imperative in meeting stated goals to maximise research for community and social benefit in Australia.