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ANDS’ response to government inquiries

Dr Greg Laughlin, ANDS Principal Policy Adviser

In late 2015 the Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements (a.k.a. the Watt review) included 48 case studies involving 32 universities across medical, agricultural, aerospace, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, and automotive industries.

Soon afterwards, the Department of Education and Training published NCRIS case studies in which the accessibility of research data had made significant contributions to university-industry collaborations across multiple sectors. Virtually all of these collaborations relied upon — or heavily involved — research data.

In the first half of 2016 ANDS made submissions to four Government inquiries, all highlighting the opportunities with data in general and research data in particular. They were:

  • Productivity Commission inquiry into Intellectual Property Arrangements
  • Productivity Commission inquiry into Data Availability and Use
  • Australian Research Council’s Engagement and Impact Assessment Consultation
  • Medical Research Future Fund’s Australian Medical Research and Innovation Five Year Strategy.

There are three common messages in these submissions. Firstly, the definition of ‘research outputs’ should include data, techniques, algorithms and software (sometimes referred to as NTRO, or non-traditional research outputs) rather than publications alone as has been customary.

Secondly, appropriate data infrastructure is needed to realise the full value of NTRO. The business case for this is overwhelmingly positive in economic terms.

Thirdly, added to this is the emerging concept of ‘trusted repositories’, whereby a research group builds a trusted data resource from a combination of research and public sector sources. This then forms the basis of long term collaborations and engagements with industry, business, public sector and NGOs.

These messages are being echoed by other players in the research and innovation ecosystem. They underpin the growing importance and recognition of research data, including the major research funders, government and the research sector itself.