2004 – DEST’s Evaluation of Knowledge and Innovation Reforms Consultation Report

Attachment: CAPA Paper

On 24th March the Minister for Education, Brendan Nelson, released three reports on research and research education. The reports drew on a series of reviews held in 2003. The reports make recommendations only – a full research and research education funding policy package is expected to be handed down with the Federal budget on May 11.

This briefing paper outlines the key recommendation in the report Evaluation of Knowledge and Innovation Reforms Consultation Report. The review of Knowledge and Innovation is perhaps the most important for postgraduates, as it encompasses the problematic Research Training Scheme (RTS).

When the review of Knowledge and Innovation was announced in 2003, CAPA produced a background paper to assist CAPA Constituents making submissions, which is available from the CAPA web site. CAPA’s opinions about Knowledge and Innovation and the RTS will not be discussed in detail here, as they are available in that paper, as well as in CAPA’s submission to the review.

Key Features of the Paper

The most problematic feature of the paper is that its authors have decided to treat the review itself as a kind of survey. Where only a few submissions were made on a particular topic there is a tendency for the authors to remark that the paucity of opinions made the issue ‘inconclusive.’ A review is not a survey – a submission to a review posing one fine argument on an issue is important, and should outweigh a number of poor arguments, or indeed a lack of other comment. A review is a qualitative process, and to approach data gathered quantitatively is inappropriate.