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Research Output Reporting

Information on USC reportable publication schemes.

Non-Traditional Research Outputs Submission Guidelines

Non-Traditional Research Outputs, or NTROs, offer valuable and important contributions to knowledge and to USC’s vibrant research culture.

USC has established an NTRO Assessment Panel to evaluate NTROs in a systematic, timely and ongoing manner.

The NTRO Assessment Panel consists of staff members representing a range of schools, primarily those most likely to produce NTROs. Staff from USC Library Research Bank and the Office of Research's Research Performance and Information Systems play an important role on the committee and have assisted in establishing a set of processes that ensure fair and equitable evaluation of NTROs. The committee will: 

  • consider the impact and significance of a work or works
  • prioritise quality (over raw numbers)
  • assert individual submission quality
  • assess/record overall quality levels 
  • and ensure NTROs are categorised accordingly in Research Bank.

Currently the Scimago Q1-rated long form journal article is USC’s preferred standard for traditional research outputs. In the same way papers are gauged and assessed in terms of quality, USC has established a preferred NT1–NT4 from works of major international standing to regional and local outputs. While USC recognises and supports NTROs, staff are strongly encouraged to also publish in traditional forms (such as journal articles). Such publications provide the NTRO with additional support, peer review and validation for the work as research.

On this page:

What Counts as Research?

The Australian Research Council (ARC) define research ‘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, inventions and understandings. This could include synthesis and analysis of previous research to the extent that it is new and creative.’

The ARC’s definition encompasses pure and strategic basic research, applied research and experimental development. Applied research is original investigation undertaken to acquire new knowledge but directed towards a specific, practical aim or objective (including a client-driven purpose).

The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines research and development (R&D) in accordance with the OECD standard: ‘As comprising creative and systematic work undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge – including knowledge of humankind, culture and society – and to devise new applications of available knowledge.’

These definitions are consistent with a broad notion of research and experimental development comprising ’creative and systematic work undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge – including knowledge of humankind, culture and society –  and to devise new applications of available knowledge’ as defined in the ARC funding rules.

What Counts as an NTRO?

The NTRO Assessment Panel’s approach is built from guidelines established by the ARC, in particular how they relate to Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). The committee has dual purposes: research capacity building, and; working toward ERA submission readiness. The committee will recognise NTROs where the output meets the following criteria:

  • The activity must be undertaken as research, meet the ARC definition of research, and meet established disciplinary practices in non-traditional research.
  • There must be evidence of peer review, or its equivalence, which can be based on selection through competitive review processes, recognition through awards judged by a panel of peers, through significant scholarly or industry review, or by commissioning of the work, for example.
  • The activity should not be the result of activity that is ostensibly coursework, teaching or involves student-produced work or work by students/for assessment.
  • The activity must produce an output that is presented publicly to an external (to USC) venue or outlet and not be considered self-publishing.
  • The activity should be a sustained endeavour, typically over a few months to a year (or longer term for major creative works). Smaller works should be grouped as a collection or series of works attached or responding to the same research theme. These will have the potential to become ERA portfolios.
  • The NTRO that is submitted for assessment must be submitted to the USC Research Bank, along with a research statement and accompanying evidence. The activity must conform to the categories and sub-categories as defined by the ERA guidelines. They might include:
    • original creative works (e.g. visual artwork, textual work)
    • live performance of creative works (e.g. play, dance)
    • recorded/rendered creative works (e.g. audio/visual recording, digital works)
    • public exhibitions and events (e.g. exhibition, festival)
    • reports (particularly where they might contribute knowledge to industry.

The NTRO Assessment Panel

The panel will judge and meet consensus about submissions using these criteria:

  • venues/outlets with broad international recognition
  • research methodologies
  • demonstrated quality
  • timely and significant
  • originality/innovation
  • appropriate level of theoretical and conceptual rigour
  • influential in the academic field
  • impactful beyond the academic field
  • contributes new knowledge internationally
  • evidence of peer review of international standing
  • of significant scale relative to its form
  • claims made are realistic.

USC NTRO Classification

The NTRO Assessment Panel will classify submissions according to the following rankings:

NT1 Major - works of significant scale and major international standing
NT2 Standard - works of national standard
NT3 Works of national standing, but small in scale, and regional works
NT4 Works of local significance
NR Works which are not research - this may apply to teaching-related material or other content not meeting the ERA definition of research

Some activities, works and/or research statements will be returned to researchers for additional evidence or clarification and classified initially as Returns. This categorisation covers work that would benefit from re-evaluation by the researcher following peer feedback.

Assessment of NTROs is therefore more likely to align with those determinations of quality associated with traditional research outputs where only a small percentage of outputs are determined at a Q1 level.

Researchers are responsible for:

  • Updating USC Research Bank and individual school databases/archives where appropriate and providing relevant documentation.
  • Ensuring their NTRO is accompanied by a well-written, properly executed research statement and evidence of ERA compliance.

In order for an NTRO to be ERA eligible, it is important to provide supporting documentation as per the following checklist:

  • A research statement of no more than 2000 characters (including spaces) using the USC template.
  • Documentation of the creative work (this must provide a clear sense of the work in situ and be in digital form).
  • Evidence of the significance of the creative work. This may be through evidence of excellence (locations or venues of public presentation, collaboration with leading personnel, or other measures of excellence).
  • Evidence of peer review (print or electronic critical or scholarly essays, articles, reviews, recognition through short-listing, prizes, or judged by a panel of peers, commissioning through peer review process, competitively funded grant schemes).
  • Inclusion of appropriate FoR (Field of Research) code.
  • Indication of whether work is major or standard, where (as indicated in the ERA guidelines): 
    • Major = international or national scale, significant output over one to five years.
    • Standard = national or regional scale, sustained output of up to one-year.

After the submission is uploaded into USC Research Bank, it will be reviewed by the NTRO Assessment Panel to ensure all requirements have been met and that the output is eligible for ERA review. The researcher may be asked to make changes or provide further documentation or evidence.

If you have any questions or practical uploading questions, please contact the USC Library Research Bank team in the first instance.

If you have any questions about school areas of research focus, contact the chair of your school’s research committee or your deputy Head of School (Research).

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