HDR Research End-User Engagement Survey

Following a recent Government review of Australia’s research training system, the Department of Education (DET) has introduced a number of new reporting requirements that aim to monitor and improve higher degree research programs within Australian universities. 

Under these new requirements, universities must regularly report on how higher degree research (HDR) candidates engage with research end-users. By collecting this data, universities can also identify and support external engagement opportunities for HDR candidates. 

In accordance with this data collection, it is now mandatory for UNSW HDR candidates to regularly self-report on their own engagement with research end-users through the HDR Research End-User Engagement Survey. Candidates will be required to complete this survey for multiple reporting periods each year. 


What is a “research end-user”?

A research end-user is an individual, community or organisation external to UNSW that will directly use or benefit from your research.

Examples of research end-users include governments, businesses, non-governmental organisations, communities and community organisations.


Specific exclusions of research end-users are:

  • higher education providers (including international universities)

  • organisations that are affiliates, controlled entities or subsidiaries (such as Medical Research Institutes) of a higher education provider

  • equivalents (international or domestic) of the above exclusions


What types of engagement are included?

The DET requires universities to report on the following types of engagement activities:

1. Research internship

Research internship is defined as a temporary paid or unpaid position with a government, business, community, or organisation outside of academia, where a candidate has undertaken research and development related to their UNSW HDR program. The internship must be for at least 30 days, and could be non-consecutive, or during periods of enrolment or program leave. Research visits to other universities or institutes are not considered research internships. 


  • Working in the Commonwealth Department of Health on a project to identify patient journeys through analysis of large data sets

  • A Fellowship Program with the National Hospital for Neurology in the UK 

  • Working in the research centre of an international NGO


2. Jointly supervised by a research end-user

Jointly supervised by a research end-user is defined as an HDR candidate that has at least one supervisor from a research end-user organisation on their supervision panel. The supervision arrangements must be endorsed by the candidate's university.


  • One of your supervisors is based in the Department of Health

  • One of your supervisors is based at a construction company


3. Jointly or fully funded by a research end-user

Jointly or fully funded by a research end-user is defined as a financial contribution from a research end-user to support an HDR candidate’s course of study. The financial contribution must be directly awarded to an individual HDR candidate as a scholarship or similar. It does not include funding for a general research project that a candidate may be involved with.


  • You are receiving a stipend scholarship and sponsorship for conference attendance funded by Westpac

  • You have been awarded a scholarship to cover your living expenses under an ARC grant


4. Formal training on end-user engagement

Formal training on end-user engagement is defined as any formal training or structured learning recognised by the university that aims to prepare an HDR candidate for work with a research end-user. This includes intellectual property, management/leadership, collaboration, entrepreneurship, and research commercialisation. Training can be administered by a research end-user organisation or by the university.


  • You attended a seminar offered by UNSW Entrepreneurship on the topic of research commercialisation

  • You completed an external training course or workshop on management and leadership


5. Other commercialisation and engagement activities

Other commercialisation and engagement activities is defined as an arrangement with a research end-user that enables experiential learning related to an HDR candidature. This includes practicums or performances, R&D consultancy work, R&D commercialisation work, entrepreneurship, community engagement/outreach, and research extension work either with or for a research end-user. These activities can be paid or unpaid, and no minimum amount of learning days applies. The activities exclude research internships unless they are shorter than 30 days and exclude joint funding arrangements.


  • You developed a research data management tool for use by research end-users

  • You undertook a paid or unpaid position for less than 30 days in the reporting period


Frequently Asked Questions

Who needs to complete the HDR Research End-User Engagement Survey?

All currently enrolled UNSW HDR candidates to complete the HDR Research End-User Engagement Survey on a regular basis.

Do I have to complete the HDR Research End-User Engagement Survey even if I haven’t undertaken any research end-user engagement activities?

UNSW is required to regularly report on any HDR research activities that involve a research end-user.

Each survey is designed to capture all of your research activities with a research end-user for a particular time period. 

To help us collect this information, you are required to complete the HDR Research End-User Engagement Survey on a regular basis. 


What if the engagement activity is one that I have already reported in a previous research end-user engagement survey?

UNSW is required to regularly report on any HDR research activities with a research end-user.

Each survey is designed to capture all of your research activities with a research end-user for a particular time period. As a result, you need to self-report your engagement with research end-users on a regular basis, for each time period. 


How do I complete the HDR Research End-User Engagement Survey?

You will receive an email during the survey collection period with a unique link to online survey form.


Are supervisors required to complete the HDR Research End-User Engagement Survey?

The HDR Research End-User Engagement Survey must be completed by HDR candidates, however candidates are welcome to consult their supervisor before completing the survey.


What devices can be used to complete the form?

You can use a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone with an internet connection.


What is the recommended Web browser to complete the form in?

To ensure the forms functionality remains operational please ensure that you only use one of the following browsers: Google Chrome (preferred), Safari, or Firefox. Please do not complete the form utilising Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge as some functionality within the Qualtrics form is not compatible with those two browsers.


What if I don't know an answer to one or more of the questions in the form? What if I get to the declaration page but I am not ready to submit?

The form will automatically save your responses as you progress through the questions, so you should be able to come back to a question at a later point in time.


Why do I need to provide this information?

The Australian Government Department of Education and Training (DET) has introduced additional reporting requirements for all Australian Higher Education Providers to report on their HDR candidates engagement with research end-users for each census period. As this is mandatory for UNSW to report on to the Government, it follows that it is also mandatory for HDR candidates to provide the information on their engagement to the University (see the HEIMS website).


Why is the Australian Government collecting this information?

The new Higher Degree by Research (HDR) indicators, including the research end-user engagement indicators, are part of a wider plan to improve student data collections to meet recommendations made to Government through a recent review of the Australian research training system. The improved data will be used to improve monitoring of the research training system, to inform national research training funding policy, and to provide a robust national data set for universities to improve their research training programs. New indicators are particularly important to support monitoring and evaluation of the recent program changes including the impact of recent changes on incentives for universities.

On 7 December 2015, the Australian Government announced new Research Block Grant (RBG) funding arrangements for Higher Education Providers (HEPs) as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). These arrangements combined existing RBGs into two programs, the Research Support Program (RSP) and the Research Training Program (RTP). These policy innovations were in direct response to the Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements, led by Dr Ian Watt (Watt Review) and are designed to drive greater research-industry collaboration by increasing incentives for success in industry and other end-user engagement. In addition, improvements to program guidelines were made in response to recommendations of the Review of Australia's Research Training System undertaken by the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA Review).

The need for better data and information on Australia's higher degree by research (HDR) training system itself was a common thread across the different areas of the ACOLA Review. Poor data on the performance of the HDR training system makes it difficult to understand what return is generated from Australian Government investment of more than $1 billion annually and how best to go about improving the system.

In the RBG consultation paper on new block grant arrangements released in May 2016, the Department of Education and Training (DET) flagged its intention to improve income and student data collections to meet recommendations of both the Watt and ACOLA reviews. DET released a further consultation paper on new research block grant data requirements in January 2017. This paper sought feedback from the higher education sector on detailed implementation options for each of the proposed changes. DET received strong support for the new HDR research end-user engagement indicator through both of these consultation processes.


Who will have access to the information submitted as part of this survey?

The information you provide will be stored confidentially by the UNSW Graduate Research School (GRS) and will only be accessible to GRS staff members with appropriate access and utilised for reporting and statistical purposes in accordance with the UNSW Privacy Policy and the Australian Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). Information will also be reported to the Australian Government Department of Education and Training (DET) through mandatory reporting mechanisms.


If I have received in kind-resources such as data or samples from a research end-user (or their site) does this count as a research end-user engagement activity and if so which category? What about field-work?

Yes in kind-resources such as data, samples or field-work would fall under the category of 'Other commercialisation and engagement activities' so long as it has enabled 'experiential learning' related to your HDR research. Note the research end-user organisation also needs to directly use or directly benefit from the output, outcome or results of the research you have conducted.

Note 'experiential learning' can be thought of as the process of learning through experience or active learning as opposed to passive learning. It may include items such as observations, interactions, decision making, analytical skills, problem solving skills, and reflection. 


What about publications or books that may benefit certain communities or research end user organisations - would this fall into any of the research end-user engagement activities?

Data collected relates to engagement between HDR candidates and research end-users, rather than specific research outputs. If an HDR candidate is collaborating with a research end-user and the result is a research publication or book, then yes, that collaboration could be eligible as one of the indicators as long as this engagement meets the definition for either internship, joint supervision, joint funding, formal training or other engagement activities. However, if an HDR candidate produces a publication or book without engagement from a research end-user which then results in subsequent benefits to certain communities or research end-user organisations then this would not be included in this data collection.