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A Beacon for Research and Research Training

In its founding era, Adelaide recruited its academic staff internationally, and championed their investigation of new fields. Today, we need to recapture that boldness, the capacity to attract international research leaders, and to nimbly adapt to major new research challenges. We also need to recruit and retain the next generation of research leaders—excellent research students.

In 2013-15 we will enhance our research capacity by adding at least 10 more internationally highimpact research professors in fields of our research strength. The focus here will be on attracting high citation researchers who count amongst the top 1% in the world in their fields.

High citation researchers can also be developed through research student recruitment and effective student retention strategies. We will double the number of full PhD scholarships to attract more front-rank PhD students internationally. A Beacon of Research Taskforce will be formed in 2013 to design and implement these initiatives.

The new approach, reviving research in undergraduate teaching through small-group discovery, will be most effective if leading research staff is seen in the classroom. The Beacon of Research Taskforce will seek ways in which students at every level can hear from the University’s brightest researchers.

The Taskforce will also take steps to better embrace the State innovation agenda, the national research priorities, and seek to persuade business and government of the contributions we can make to their own plans. This will include an agenda to intensify collaboration between researchers and industry, to assist in translating research outcomes into increased productivity for our region, and having researchers coalesce around “wicked problems” and grand challenges, such as food security, sustainable energy, and abundant clean water.

A central Interdisciplinary Research Investment Fund will be established, to facilitate nimble and adaptive responses across discipline boundaries to emerging social, economic and environmental questions of high public importance both to our region and internationally. The small-group discovery model will also provide opportunities for elements of the great challenges at the international level to be included in the undergraduate curriculum.

But with the huge cost of research infrastructure necessary to addressing many of today’s major research problems, no university can work alone. It is vital that our researchers have access to major national and international research facilities. Partnerships, which bring together research teams of equal strength, across university, government and business organisations and across international boundaries, can magnify the work of any single university. And by being part of a global collaboration, we can also ensure our researchers are able to access the best facilities in the world.

The University will commit to a policy of forming research partnerships where it can find partners of equal or better strength, and where the whole partnership is demonstrably greater than the sum of the parts. As a first step, the Working Party will advise on developing by 2015 at least five high-profile international research networks with front-rank partners abroad for its key research concentrations. Some of these may leverage the strategic alliances being built for the enhanced Study Abroad program. The networks will be supported by a Staff Mobility Scheme, to facilitate international movement of staff between partner institutions.

The University has all the elements of a global partnership at its Waite campus, where research departments, research institutes, and the R&D arms of government and business in the agricultural, food and wine field are colocated. In 2013, it will propose leverage of these organisations and selected international partners into a Waite consortium, which will likely become one of the most powerful concentrations of agricultural, food and wine research in the world.

We all hope international university ranking systems will improve their reliability in the coming decade, but no university can ignore their already significant impact. The rising importance of national performance assessments and international rankings around the world, including the ERA in Australia, has led to accelerating demand and greater competition for highly talented staff and students. In 2013 the Beacon of Research

Taskforce will develop steps to ensure that our research strengths are fully recognised in the ranking tables. As well as recruitment of research leaders, there will be an incentive funding for more strategic publishing, enhanced grant writing support, individual staff development and more effective goal setting at the school and individual level. We will take steps to have, by the end of the decade, at least 80% of our research fields ranked 4 or 5 in the ERA, and achieve an international ranking better than 150 in the ARWU (Shanghai Jiao Tong) ranking tables.

From its founding the University recognised its international reputation was associated with its research quality, and that there are timeless factors associated with engendering excellence in research.

Attracting and retaining outstanding research staff and higher degree students, providing access to top-quality research facilities and infrastructure, supporting research excellence and having the capacity to respond rapidly to new research opportunities will all ensure Adelaide burns brilliantly as a research beacon into the future.

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