A resilient research culture

A message from Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) Professor Abid Khan: The challenge to strengthen research also presents an opportunity to grow external engagement.

It has been a pleasure to meet many new colleagues since arriving at ACU in November. I’m grateful for the warm welcome and the university community's openness to looking at how we can further enhance our research quality and outcomes and lift our external engagement in service of our mission over the years ahead.

The university’s rapid rise into the top 300 in the Times Higher Education ranking, for example, has been marked by a strategy emphasising growth in citations linked to publications in select high-quality journals. These citation levels have plateaued for the last couple of years, with our 2023 score of 98.3 for citations placing us in the top 40 worldwide for this indicator. While ACU has excelled on this measure, many other important and complementary indicators in research performance such as national grant funding, HDR loads, teaching and industry-related income remain low.

With research outputs under the citations-oriented strategy reaching capacity, the university must seek to activate and support a wider community of researchers at all levels. It should also leverage larger cohorts of PhD students and early-career researchers, while accessing greater volume and diversity of external funds, linked to an aligned array of domestic and international partners.

Strategies beyond 2023

To help map how we can sustainably grow our research income, output and impact while retaining excellence, we will soon begin a thematic review on research and research training at ACU.

Sustainable growth entails a shift toward:

  • a pipeline from undergraduate to higher degree and postdoctoral research
  • emphasis on quality outputs generated by a wide community of researchers
  • external income generation from domestic and international sources
  • multidisciplinary teams for building new research areas and infrastructure
  • international partnerships to increase research capacity, such as joint PhD programs that target global challenges and large offshore funding sources
  • partnerships at scale with industry, NGOs and governments to increase external funding and raise the reputation of ACU’s research.
Strong at home and outward facing

ACU’s transition to a mature and resilient research culture will need to focus on a strategy with greater home-grown strength, institutional partnering centred on major social challenges, and permeable internal structures that leverage resources and facilities across the university and our networks.

As we look to sustainability, our challenge as an institution is to foster growth toward a more outward-facing, relevant and interconnected university.

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