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Guide to HERDC Research Income

The Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) is comprised of research income submitted by universities to the Commonwealth Government each year, and is used by the Commonwealth to determine the University’s share of Research Block Grants Link to external website.

  • What is Research Income?

    Research income is income that is provided specifically to undertake or support research. This may be provided in the following forms:

    • agreed payments for completed milestones,
    • salary recharges where the salary is for staff undertaking or supporting research,
    • expense reimbursement, where the expenses are incurred for research purposes,
    • travel reimbursement, where the travel is for the purposes of conducting research or accessing a program of research, but not if the travel is to attend a meeting, workshop or conference.

    In order for the University to maximise its share of funding it must ensure that all research income is being captured. Only income coded to research account codes is picked up for the HERDC return. These codes are as follows:

    • 1181-1211: Category 1 – Nationally competitive research grants Link to external website
    • 1221-1242: Category 2 – Other public sector funding
    • 1251-1264: Category 3 – Australian industry, donations and international grants
    • 1281: Category 4 – Co-operative Research Centres (CRCs)

    Account codes 1243 ARC Research Networks and 1253 Research funds from other Universities are not picked up for the HERDC as these are specifically excluded in the HERDC specifications.

    Regarding account code 1253 please note that if an invoice is raised to another Australian University for funds provided by a third party, these can be included and should be coded according to the original source of the funds.

    For example, if an invoice is raised to UniSA for State Government funds it should be coded to 1231 State Government.

  • How You Can Assist the University in Maximising Its Research Income

    Billers have a direct impact on whether income is included in the HERDC return. In order to maximise the research income reported billers must ensure that all research income is coded using the account codes above. By maximising the HERDC research income in the Faculty or School the value of research block grants that flow to the Faculty and School are also maximised.

    Researchers can assist in this process by indicating that income is to be billed as research income when requesting invoices to be raised.

    Research Accounting will review certain non-research income account codes for possible research income. This review will look at non-research invoices raised to research project codes only. However, due to the number of transactions to review this process will not pick up all corrections that need to be made.

    To assist in capturing all research income correctly, please consider the following when raising or requesting invoices:

    • If the income is going to be or has been spent on research it is highly likely that it can be claimed as HERDC income
    • If the invoice is being raised in accordance with an agreement, check whether the agreement has a component of research – it may be possible to code some of the income as research, even if the overall project is considered to be non-research,
    • If the invoice is for expense reimbursement and is being coded to a research project code, it can more than likely be included as HERDC income
    • Similarly with salary recharges – if the salary is being charged to a research project we should be able to claim the salary recharge as HERDC income
    • If the invoice is raised to another Australian University, is it for University or 3rd party funds?
    • Any research income that is not specifically excluded in the HERDC guidelines (as listed below) can be included


    A full copy of the HERDC Specifications can be downloaded from the Department of Education & Training websiteLink to external website.

  • People to Contact

    If you are unsure about how to code an invoice please contact Research Accounting:

    Name Postion Extension
    Chelsea Katsikitis Manager, Research Accounting 34253
    Kristeen Soon Research Accountant 33848

Further Details

  • What Is the HERDC Definition of Research?

    Below is a definition of research taken from Section 3 - Research of the HERDC specifications pdf (Guidelines):

    Research is defined as the creation of new knowledge and/or the use of existing knowledge in a new and creative way so as to generate new concepts, methodologies and understandings. This could include synthesis and analysis of previous research to the extent that it leads to new and creative outcomes.


    Activities that support research and meet this definition of research include:

    • professional, technical, administrative or clerical support staff directly engaged in activities essential to the conduct of research
    • management of staff who are either directly engaged in the conduct of research or are providing professional, technical, administrative or clerical support or assistance to those staff
    • the activities and training of HDR students enrolled at the HEP the development of HDR training and courses
    • the supervision of students enrolled at the HEP and undertaking HDR training and courses
    • research and experimental development into applications software, new programming languages and new operating systems (such R&D would normally meet the definition of research)

    Activities that do not support research must be excluded, such as:

    • scientific and technical information services
    • general purpose or routine data collection
    • standardisation and routine testing
    • feasibility studies (except into research and experimental development projects)
    • specialised routine medical care
    • commercial, legal and administrative aspects of patenting, copyright or licensing activities
    • routine computer programming, systems work or software maintenance
  • What Research Income Can Be Included Within the HERDC?
    • stipends and scholarships for higher degree research (HRD) students, unless explicitly excluded (see section 7 of HERDC specifications)
    • competitive, peer reviewed HDR stipend and scholarships from non-Australian industry or non-Australian Government agencies
    • travel grants where funds are provided specifically for the purpose of travel and used to enable access to a program of research
    • funds provided for the purpose of clinical trials provided the purpose of the trial meets the definition of research (see definition above)
    • research infrastructure grants unless explicitly excluded below
    • income from overseas Higher Education Providers (HEPs) provided specifically for research purposes
    • income used to manage staff directly engaged in research or providing professional, technical, or clerical support or assistance to those staff
    • income received in support of:
      • professional, technical, administrative or clerical support staff directly engaged in research
      • the activities and training of HDR students enrolled at the HEP
      • the development of HDR training and courses
      • the supervision of students enrolled at the HEP and undertaking HDR training and courses
      • research and experimental development into applications software, new programming languages and new operating systems (such R&D would normally meet the definition of research).

      For information about the types of research income that may not be included within the HERDC, please refer to Section 7 of the HERDC Specifications pdf.

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