Flinders Research NewsCall for Nominations for ERA & EI 2018 panel members

ERA & EI 2018 logo

Do you want to play a key role in evaluating Australia's research quality, engagement, and impact?

The Australian Research Council (ARC) has called for nominations from Institutions for Chairs and Members of the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) Research Evaluation Committees (RECs) and the Engagement and Impact (EI) Assessment panels.

ERA has been developed by the ARC to assess research quality within Australia’s higher education institutions and evaluations in ERA are undertaken by RECs comprised of experienced, internationally-recognised experts informed by a suite of discipline-specific indicators.

The ERA 2018 assessment will use eight RECs, and each REC consists of a Chair and 15-20 expert reviewers who are the REC Members. REC Chairs and Members will be selected by the ARC from the pool of nominations and from other sources as appropriate. Nominees who are not selected as REC Chairs or REC Members may be approached to participate in ERA as a Peer Reviewer in specified peer review disciplines.

The selection criteria for ERA REC Chairs and ERA REC Membership are:

  1. Research excellence — nationally and internationally recognised research expertise, including attracting and assessing research funding from competitive granting bodies; nominees should be at the forefront of research in their area as well as have a sound understanding of the importance of research.
  2. Broad discipline expertise — broad knowledge and expertise in relevant research area(s); interdisciplinary experience is desirable.
  3. Professional and academic standing — a high level of involvement in institutional/organisational life and engagement with relevant professional association(s).
  4. Interpersonal and team skills and experience — committee/team skills such as forward planning skills, advocacy skills and skills in the management of research; personal qualities of fairness, impartiality, integrity and the ability to work effectively under tight time frames; experience working in panel environments (e.g. grant assessment panels, national or international evaluation panels)

If you wish to be considered for nomination by Flinders for the ERA 2018 REC, EI 2018 Assessment Panel (see below), or both, please send an expression of interest via email to research.data@flinders.edu.au by close of business 18 August 2017. Following an expression of interest, the Research Services Office will request and collate responses to the selection criteria and forward to Professor Robert Saint, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), who will select the nominees from Flinders to be forwarded to the ARC.

The EI 2018 assessment will use five Assessment Panels, and each will consist of a Chair and 15 to 20 expert reviewers.

The selection criteria for Panel Chairs and Researcher Membership are:

  1. Research excellence —nationally and internationally recognised research expertise, including attracting and assessing research funding from competitive granting bodies; nominees should be at the forefront of research in their area as well as have a sound understanding of the importance of research.
  2. Broad discipline expertise—broad knowledge and expertise in relevant research area(s); interdisciplinary experience is desirable.
  3. Professional and academic standing—a high level of involvement in institutional/organisational life and engagement with relevant professional association(s).
  4. Experience coordinating research activity including an understanding the needs of end-user communities.
  5. Interpersonal and team skills and experience—committee/team skills such as forward planning skills, advocacy skills and skills in the management of research; personal qualities of fairness, impartiality, integrity and the ability to work effectively under tight time frames; experience working in panel environments (e.g. grant assessment panels, national or international evaluation panels).

Institutions are also able to nominate end-users of research whose expertise would be relevant to any of the EI 2018 Assessment Panels. If you are aware of any end-users of research that would be suitable and are interested in nominating, encourage them to contact research.data@flinders.edu.au or phoning Ben Jacobs, Manager, Research Data and Reporting, on 8201 3866.

The selection criteria for Panel End-user/Beneficiary Membership are:

  1. Demonstrated leadership experience in private, public or third-sector setting.
  2. Senior-level experience of commissioning, benefitting from, applying or making use of research.
  3. Recognised standing with a relevant end-user community (e.g. board member for a peak body, advisory role to government/industry).
  4. Interpersonal and team skills and experience—committee/team skills such as forward planning skills, advocacy skills and skills in the management of research; personal qualities of fairness, impartiality, integrity and the ability to work effectively under tight time frames; experience working in panel environments (e.g. national or international evaluation panels).

Further information on the process is available by contacting research.data@flinders.edu.au or phoning Ben on 8201 3866.

Research Engagement and ImpactTips from a first time interviewee

microphone and headphones

In our ongoing series around Engagement and Impact, we change tact from the focus on one-on-one/direct engagement with communities to the impact of getting one's research out via the media. Dr David Armstrong, Lecturer in Teacher Education: Special Education, was recently interviewed by Radio Adelaide on the final report from the South Australian Parliamentary Select Committee into Access to the Education System for Students with Disabilities. His interview can be heard on the Radio Adelaide site. The Research Services Office approached David to share his experience on being interviewed by the media. Below is the interview we conducted with David.

David ArmstrongDavid Armstrong


How do you go about getting an interview?

Journalists from the media typically contact me for comment on a news story or to request a written submission about an issue. It’s important, I think, to have a strategy for developing your media profile as a researcher. My strategy has been to be available for ongoing comment in my areas of research (special and inclusive education, mental health in schools, dyslexia) to SA outlets (Adelaide Advertiser; local radio, InDaily) but with a view to establish myself interstate as a stepping stone to access to the national media. This is starting to pay off with radio interviews for interstate outlets and contact with national print media.  


Were you contacted first?

Colleagues very kindly forwarded my name to local journalists if the enquiry was in my area. I have reciprocated. It’s important to work as a team in sharing opportunities.


What assistance did you get beforehand?

When I came to Flinders I had assistance from the excellent Flinders education journalist (Tania Bawden) who facilitated interviews. In the past I led a funded education initiative (European Social Fund) with the homeless and in association with a major charity.


This initiative was innovative and high-profile, so the local and national media/celebrities/politicians were in contact on a regular basis. HRH Prince Charles visited, for example, and we spoke with the media present, so I am probably unusual in the amount of experience I have had in this respect. Interviews on the Radio and on TV require a different skillset from writing articles for the print media. I would recommend asking for assistance and advice from the Office of Communication and Engagement for anybody who is asked to appear in TV or undertake a radio interview and if it’s their first time.


Did you seek any out?

Yes, I have sought out journalists and taken a proactive approach. Registering for The Conversation is necessary – if you wish to write for it. I have recently had success engaging with politically influential state stakeholders in my field and by using Twitter but this needs to be carefully planned and executed.


What was the overall experience like?

It’s been positive and exciting. I enjoy communicating my research and saying why it’s designed to help improve the lives of children or young people with disabilities.

One important new organisation which has helped me is the Media Centre for Education Research Australia (MCERA): they have facilitated contact with the media so that it seems a less random and more positive experience.


What challenges were there?

A phone call will arrive when I have just arrived home or when I am in the middle of a meeting. If you don’t pick up the call often the journalist will ring another contact and you won’t be asked for comment or a story. If you pick up the phone you have an opportunity: you can help dispel myths; communicate key findings of your important research; and share knowledge with the community. The only other problem is that this takes time away from the everyday demands of the job (teaching, research etc.) so it’s important to find balance in media engagement.


The RSO thanks David for his time in sharing this information with the Flinders community.


Where to go if you are contacted by the media?

The Office of Communication and Engagement at Flinders offers media training in group and one-on-one sessions.

Registration with the Australian Science and Media Centre is encouraged. They provide training and advice and are very helpful in gaining access to mainstream media coverage.

Science Media Savvy provides some excellent top tips for researchers.

The Conversation has experienced journalists and editors who can provide assistance and advice to those wanting to start out or improve their writing communication skills in respect to print media. Flinders is a supporter of The Conversation and encourages our academics to get involved.

RiAus, based here in Adelaide, and Science in Public run workshops on media training throughout the year around Australia.


Research Engagement and ImpactBe Your Best for Impact

SHAPE program

Research can not only engage directly with a community, but can then impact beyond the immediate academic research outputs to society in general. The Australian Research Council (ARC) defines Impact as: ‘research impact is the contribution that research makes to economy, society and environment, beyond the contribution to academic research’ in their guidelines for the ARC Pilot Engagement Study.(1) In our continuing series on the upcoming Excellence in Research Australia round, we now look at what impact research at Flinders has had, starting with the Flinders-Panthers Be Your Best Program.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) lists a lack of physical activity as one of the 10 leading risk factors for premature death worldwide. Figures presented in January 2015 by the WHO provide the frightening statistic that one in four adults is not active enough. The effects of insufficient physical activity include heightening the risk of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

To further compound the problem, epidemiological research in Australia shows insufficient physical activity is often found in communities in low-socioeconomic areas where its effects are heightened by poor nutrition. Both physical activity and poor nutrition are major modifiable risk factors in the reduction of a number of chronic lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Research conducted by Professor Murray Drummond and the SHAPE (Sport, Health and Physical Education) team at Flinders University in partnership with a popular local sporting club, has designed and tested an innovative health project with schools in the local area to assist in modifying behaviours in young Australians and thereby promoting healthier choices.

The effects of engaging in increased physical activity for children go beyond the health outcomes listed for adults. Children and adolescents who undertake regular physical activity and enjoy good nutrition show greater personal responsibility and improved group cooperation than those who did not. Research conducted by Flinders SHAPE Centre showed child-focussed programs to enhance physical activity and improved nutrition were more successful when these activities were associated with inspirational individuals within a child’s community. So they set out to use this research to improve lives.

Flinders-Panthers: Be Your Best

The Flinders – Panthers Be Your Best program was designed to build on healthy living messages already in place at schools by regularly bringing fruit and vegetables, fun activities and local sports heroes (Panthers footballers) into the children’s school environment to promote physical activity and good nutrition as positive lifestyle choices. Run by University students together with Panthers footballers, the program enjoyed phenomenal success with the children and their communities. School principals hosting the initiative were excited by the response it received from both the students themselves and the parents and teachers supporting them. Working with the footballers gave the program a degree of ‘cool’ that working with teachers and parents did not have. The Flinders – Panthers Be Your Best program had a different role from regular school lessons, namely the promotion of key lifestyle concepts with positive reinforcement. In that way the children could engage with role models on a peer-to-peer basis rather than in a teacher-student way. These interactions inspired the children to a healthier lifestyle because it was something they had seen someone they admired doing, and that being healthy was ‘cool’.

"In terms of academic impact this research has resulted in a number of important research papers and international book chapters that will be accessed by scholars around the world to emulate the program in their own unique settings. From a practical and ‘real life' perspective we have impacted the lives of several hundred children by changing attitudes and behaviours associated with physical activity and nutrition in regions where these aspects of health are poorest. Through sport, and by utilising sport and PE students as agents of change, we have also played a role in promoting children's awareness in these low socioeconomic localities that university is a ‘cool’ place to be. The potential to be interrupt the cycle of education attrition is a real prospect for families where higher education is not a high priority," said Murray.

In addition to the predicted outcomes of the program, working with University students had unforeseen positive consequences for the children involved. All schools involved in the initiative are located in low socio-economic areas with few positive career and educational opportunities. By giving the children regular and positive contact with University students from similar backgrounds, the idea that there was more to life than school and possible unemployment was invigorating to the participants. Teachers reported that students engaged with the program expressed significantly increased interest in attending high school and seeking tertiary education as a direct result of engaging with the Flinders students in the Flinders – Panthers Be Your Best program.

By connecting children with accessible sporting role models in an environment focused on healthy lifestyle choices, the Flinders – Panthers Be Your Best program has been a great success. SHAPE director, Murray, is working with the South Australian National Football League to expand the program into additional schools and working with additional football clubs in the future to bring the impact of the program to a greater part of the society.


For further Flinders Research Impact stories, see the Research Impact section. For assistance in creating a Flinders Research Impact case study, contact Dr Brodie Beales.

(1) ARC Pilot Study overview information - http://www.arc.gov.au/ei-pilot-overview

Flinders Research NewsEngagement and Impact at Flinders

Flinders Logo

Engagement and Impact are more than just new buzz words around research. They are key for the future of Australian Research. With the Federal Government implementing an Engagement and Impact Assessment alongside the next Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) round in 2018, now is when universities and researchers should be preparing for this new type of research outcome measurement.

The Research Services Office has been working with a number of disciplines across Flinders to develop responses to the Australian Research Council's Engagement and Impact pilot assessment. Developing an understanding of the diverse types of engagements and impacts made by our research community is critical to the way we develop our overarching responses to these types of assessment processes.

Professor Claire Smith and Associate Professor Heather Burke, from the Department of Archaeology, have kicked off a series of articles that will discuss the types of engagement that Flinders researchers have undertaken and the impacts of these and other research projects.

Susan Arthure, Doctoral candidate in the Department of Archaeology, provides a personal account of her experience in building relationships with community members and highlights the importance of allowing time for relationships to develop.

We are encouraging comments on these posts as a way to open dialogue on this new form of measurement and we encourage you to contribute your own articles and examples of engagement and impact within your disciplines.


Research Engagement and ImpactExcavating with and in a Community

Article by Susan Arthure
Doctoral Candidate, Archaeology Department
Flinders University

Even the young can excavate a straight trench wall!

I’ve just returned from leading an archaeological excavation at Baker’s Flat near Kapunda, South Australia, as part of the research for my PhD in archaeology. 

Today, it’s a wheat paddock on private land, but in the nineteenth century Baker’s Flat was a vibrant Irish community. Although its residents made up a large proportion of the broader Kapunda community, they weren’t very popular locally. In the recorded histories, where Baker’s Flat gets mentioned at all, the predominant message is of fights and hovels, animals running wild, drunkenness, lawlessness, and dirt. The Baker’s Flat community was first written off, and then written out of the histories.

Which is where community comes in. The story of Baker’s Flat was remembered by just a few local historians, who shared it with me. And in the 'heel of the hunt', as we say in Ireland, those historians and I embarked on an historical and archaeological journey of exploration about this site. A journey that has now encompassed old and young, academics and community members, archaeologists and artists.

Volunteer crew hard at work in the trench.

When I first looked at the site, I was told that there had been dugouts, but I couldn’t see it. I was thinking of dugouts like those at Burra, very defined and easy to see the remains of in the creek bed. However, a geophysical survey of part of the site showed anomalies consistent with the size of houses, and when we excavated one of these, it turned out to be a dugout. Not the same as at Burra, but one that was dug lightly into the side of the hill to form shelter walls, which were then used as the foundation for other walls made of flattened tin and hessian. And all consistent with oral histories collected in the 1970s and folklore passed down by the Kapunda historians.

Talking to the landowner, he remembered his father telling him how he was able to buy the land cheap after the last war because it was so full of junk and big holes that it was impossible to work. He covered the land with 10cms of top soil, but where there were large holes from the dugouts, he pushed in the "junk" (wheelbarrows, bedsteads, bathtubs) and added up to a metre of top soil to level the land. These memories helped explain the stratigraphy of the site, and helped me to determine where to work.

And the important thing here is time. The landowner and I have spent a lot of time standing and thinking, looking at holes in the ground. If you don’t allow the time to build trust with people, then you really miss out.

It shows the importance of communication and collaboration, and the fact that effective public engagement demands time and the ability to wait, generosity of spirit, trust, and the ability to ask good questions and listen well to the answers. 

Historical archaeologists are in the fortunate position of working in a truly multidisciplinary field. I would argue that because we can combine texts and archaeology, oral histories and public involvement, we are really able to help archaeology to live in the public arena, and allow different stories and voices to be heard. One of the most enjoyable research outputs so far has been a series of 12 oil paintings by artist Lynn Mack, which is based on ceramic and glass artefacts excavated at Baker’s Flat. The exhibition, Unearthed, is currently on display in the Flinders University Central Library.

Unearthed: an exhibition of paintings by Lynn Mack based on artefacts excavated at Baker’s Flat.

Research Engagement and ImpactWhat does engagement look like? Community-initiated research.

The Departments of History and Archaeology are thinking about engagement. In 2017, the Field of Research code 21 History and Archaeology will be submitted for the Australian Research Council’s Pilot Engagement Study.

The pilot aims to examine how universities are translating their research into economic, social and other benefits and encourages greater collaboration between universities, industries and other end-users of research.

The ARC defines research engagement as:

'the interaction between researchers and research end-users (including industry, government, non-governmental organisations, communities and community organisations), for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge, technologies and methods, and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity’
(ARC 2017:11)

Much of the research in the Department of Archaeology is initiated by community groups, government departments and other end-users. People regularly approach us to record historic shipwrecks, identify the graves of their relatives, record Aboriginal rock art and excavate under the floor boards of historic buildings.

For archaeology, engagement is less about researchers engaging with the community than the community engaging with researchers.

The Department of Archaeology receives around one community request per month. Many of these are translated into student research projects, Archaeology Society training exercises, field schools or voluntary projects undertaken by staff members. Many of the contacts made by communities are the result of media coverage of our research and our web presence.

Sometimes engagement is a single project. This may involve recording a cemetery, assisting with the digitisation of the records of a local museum or excavating an air raid shelter.

Sometimes engagement is a long-term relationship. These research partnerships can last for decades. Claire Smith has worked with the Barunga community in the Northern Territory since 1990 and Ngadjuri people since 1998. Associate Professor Amy Roberts conducted her Honours research with the Mannum community in 1998 and still works with this community. Similarly, Dr Mick Morrison is still conducting research with the Aboriginal people in west Cape York whom he first worked with in 2000. DECRA Fellow Dr Daryl Wesley has worked with Aboriginal people from Western Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, since 1991.

Among other things, community-initiated research has the capacity to significantly increase Flinders University’s public profile. Heather Burke’s research in 2011 and 2012 with the Catholic Church, the Sisters of Saint Joseph and the Mary Mackillop Penola Centre sought to locate the stable school where Mary Mackillop founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph. This research generated more than 65 media interviews, including television segments with WIN 9, National 9 News and Channel 10 News.

Dr Alice Gorman’s research on space archaeology and space junk has led to her playing a leading role in the Space Industry Association of Australia, which in 2017 is hosting the world’s largest space gathering, the International Astronautical Congress, in Adelaide. In this capacity, she has been invited to mentor small satellite start-up companies in Melbourne and New Zealand and to collaborate with lunar research teams in India.

Most importantly, community-initiated research points to both the needs and wants of local communities.

Often, people identify research opportunities but don’t have the capacity or the specialist knowledge to take advantage of these themselves. They seek support from the University as a regional authority and archaeology as a specialist discipline. If the archaeologist takes on the research the community may provide small amounts of funding and/or in-kind support for the research. Sometimes the community may seek funding for a longer-term project. Sometimes they will co-fund or co-host a workshop or symposium, co-present at a conference or co-author a publication or other product. These activities produce a wide variety of output from research undertaken on the basis of a ‘mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge, technologies and methods, and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity’ (ARC 2017:11).

Article provided by Professor Claire Smith and Associate Professor Heather Burke, Department of Archaeology


Australian Research Council 2017 Engagement and Impact Assessment Pilot 2017. Submission Guidelines. Available at http://www.arc.gov.au/engagement-and-impact-assessment

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