3 Australian S&T Research Stewardship



The chapter discusses the two guiding principles behind a coherent stewardship policy for Australian S&T research. The first principle is the need to promote a research scholarship that based on promoting knowledge discovery, knowledge integration, knowledge application and knowledge transfer. The second is the need for an evidence-based approach that can be justified based on the best available empirical evidence on the status and the trends of research environment.

What makes an ecosystem NOT a fad? it is a way to look at management problems more than a formal policymaking structure (a Foucauldian shift)
Fads are not falsifiable.

1 Principled Stewardship


concentrating on short-term advantages does not guarantee success over the long term. Indeed, an undue focus on that advantage at the deteriment of other essential but under-developed factors is indeed a recipe for disaster.
need for capacities to detect vulnerability.

HE policy rationalisation frequently borrows from outside domains such as business and public sector. This has led sometimes to the introduction of management fads with both their negative and positive effects.
Furthermore, quite often we encounter policy whose rationale is that it is consistent with international trends rather than mandated by the local needs and circumstances.

But there are important differences between business and research. While business logic normally deals with tangibles, the main products of HE are intangible. There is also a difference in process. There is no clarity or certainty about knowledge production. It thus does not make it amenable to increased efficiency, effectiveness or reliability. Finally, stakeholders are not clear either as some are also the products of the process.


Research Stewardship
The Australian federal government has taken on the role of steward for research. The government research funding policy is based on a “hubs and spokes” model wherein the fund are allocated according to the importance of the research hub in Australia and in each university respectively.

A question that remains unanswered, however, is what these hubs and spokes might be. As it stands, there is but scant anecdotal evidence of what they are; there is no systemic scan of Australia’s academic environment to identify existing “research clusters”.

Challenges
Systemic:
There is a tension in the role of the government as a steward of innovation. The public sector consistently fails at fostering innovation by an over-emphasis on efficiency at the detriment of creative spaces where innovation occurs (Potts, The innovation deficit in public services: The curious problem of too much efficiency and not enough waste and failure).

Systematic:
Lack of reliable and up-to-date data (education as export is being challenged)
Lack of meaningful ways to interpret them (calls for moratoriums on the use of rankings)
Lack of a comprehensive framework that manages the system in light of this data (policy looks at short-term deficit funding)
Lack of reliable mechanisms to implement policy and generate change

Innovation, commercialisation and collaboration overlap but are not the same thing
perception that research funding is a zero-sum game. That's because there is only one source of funding, and there is no account of the cumulative benefit of collaboration. However, a good allocation of funds is crucial as over-funding leads to an overall increase in the cost research and increases risk for over-funded and under-funded projects.

Desirable Outcomes
- Long term sustainability
- Holistic management
- Systemic thinking

"It can be noted that others (e.g., Welford [19]) contest the use of the term ‘sustainability’ as it implies that sustainability would be an end-state, or a tangible outcome. They argue that, instead, one should use the concept of sustainable development. Accordingly, sustainable development is a continuous process, and only the general direction toward sustainability or the direction away from unsustainability can be known." (Jouni)
[19] Welford R. Corporate environmental management 3—toward sustainable development. London, UK: Earthscan Publications Ltd; 2000.

This will be later satisfied with the introduction of the ecological organising principle.

2 Four Types of Scholarship

Ernest Boyer identified four kinds of scholarship that is conducted in higher education: a scholarship of discovery, a scholarship of integration, a scholarship of application and a scholarship of teaching.

3 Evidence-Based Stewardship


Stewardship of the environment is based on a four-layer model:


InputAndTools
ProcessesAndActivities
OutputAndDeliverables
Policy
Rules and rewards
Extrapolation of future scenarios and outcomes
A stewardship policy
Conceptual Framework
An organising principle
An interpretation of patterns and motifs
A status report on the environment
Analysis
Statistical analytics
Identify environmental indicators (and their reliability)
Statistics and environmental profiles
Data
Data streams
Collection and classification of data
Data repository


Policy for sustainable research planning and funding. Any discipline can be supported by funding. But which can sustain after funding dries up?