Assessing research impact: Australian Research Council criteria and the case of Family Wellbeing research Academic Article uri icon


  • Researchers worldwide are increasingly reporting the societal impact of their research as part of national research productivity assessments. However, the challenges they encounter in developing their impact case studies against specified government assessment criteria and how pitfalls can be mitigated are not reported. This paper examines the key steps taken to develop an Aboriginal Family Wellbeing (FWB) empowerment research impact case study in the context of an Australian Research Council (ARC) pilot research impact assessment exercise and the challenges involved in applying the ARC criteria. The requirement that researchers demonstrate how their institutions support them to conduct impactful research has the potential to create supportive environments for researchers to be more responsive to the needs of users outside academia. However, the 15-year reference period for the associated research underpinning the reported impact and the focus on researcher's current institutional affiliation constitute potential constraints to demonstrating the true impact of research. For researchers working with Indigenous people, relationships that build over long periods of time, irrespective of university affiliation, are critical to conducting impactful research. A more open-ended time-frame, with no institutional restrictions for the 'associated research' provides the best opportunity to demonstrate the true benefits of research not only for Indigenous people but for Australian society more broadly.


  • Tsey, Komla
  • Onnis, Leigh-ann
  • Whiteside, Mary
  • McCalman, Janya
  • Williams, Megan
  • Heyeres, Marion
  • Lui, Siu Man Carrie
  • Klieve, Helen
  • Cadet-James, Yvonne
  • Baird, Leslie
  • Brown, Catherine
  • Lui, Felecia Watkin
  • Grainger, Daniel
  • Gabriel, Zona
  • Millgate, Nigel
  • Cheniart, Ben
  • Hunter, Tahalani
  • Liu, Hong-Bo
  • Yang, Yinghong
  • Yan, Li
  • Lovett, Ray
  • Chong, Alwin
  • Kinchin, Irina

publication date

  • 2019