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HESF Domain 4: Research and research training

Person placing test tube into medical equiptment

Scope and intent of the Domain

This Domain (Sections 4.1-4.2) of the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 (HES Framework) encompasses:

  • the minimum requirements for the conduct of research and recording of research activity by a higher education provider
  • the additional requirements that must be met if research training is offered.

Our commentary

4.1       Research

This Section of the Standards is intended to apply to all research carried out by higher education providers (whether within the context of research training or not). TEQSA recognises that providers who are receiving funding from national Australian funding bodies, such as the Australian Research Council (ARC) or the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) or other major agencies, must meet stringent and onerous requirements attached to their funding that are more detailed than the requirements of the HES Framework, including various codes of conduct. Definitions of research are discussed in our Guidance Note on Research and Research Training, available on our Guidance notes page.

The Standards in this Section represent more basic requirements, but we encourage providers who do not receive funding from the major funding bodies to use their higher requirements as a guide for their own operations (see Reference points), taking account of the scale and nature of their research mission. Where those requirements are already demonstrated to be met for other purposes, either in full or in relation to the matters encompassed specifically by Section 4.1.2, we will not require further demonstration in relation to compliance with Section 4.1.2. We interpret Standard 4.1.2 to broadly include all staff in a research team, such as technical specialist staff, not just academic staff.

As to the system for recording research outputs (4.1.3), a system required by major funding bodies will suffice but we would otherwise expect the system to be appropriate to the scale and purposes of the provider (for example, an authorised spreadsheet could suffice, provided it is accurate and current). This recording system will also serve to provide evidence of research activity for the purpose of meeting other Standards (e.g. 3.2.3, 4.2.2, 4.2.3).

Reference points

  • Australian Government (2007), Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
  • Australian Government, The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007).
  • Australian Government, The Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes 8th edition (2013).

4.2       Research Training

Providers who undertake research training must meet the requirements of Section 4.1 as well as those of 4.2. TEQSA expects to see that research training is guided by and undertaken in accordance with an institutionally-approved policy framework covering at least the items specified by Section 4.2. The Standards also require research training to occur in an environment of research/scholarly/creative activity (such as on-going projects within a community of scholars, leading to research publications in relevant fields) with adequate resources and with competent continuing supervisory arrangements as specified by the Standards. The Standards do not permit a course in research training (i.e. a higher degree by research) to be offered in an environment that is otherwise devoid of research activity. Providers should note the requirements for specified learning outcomes for research training and additional specific assessment requirements for research training (see Section 1.4).

Reference points

  • Australian Council of Graduate Research Inc., Australian Graduate Research Good Practice Principles.
  • Australian Government (2007), Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

Relevant guidance notes

The following guidance notes can be accessed at our Guidance notes page:

  • Academic Governance
  • Academic Integrity
  • Determining Professional Equivalence
  • Nested Courses
  • Research and Research Training 
  • Staffing, Learning Resources and Educational Support