Indicators

Performance Based Research Fund staff receiving an A or B quality rating

What We Have Found

Thirty-three percent of academic research staff in tertiary institutions were assessed as producing work that is at least original or innovative, and recognised in New Zealand or elsewhere.

Date Updated: March 2008

Indicator Description

Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF) eligible staff who received an A or B quality rating.

Why This Is Important

The New Zealand Government, like other governments, has recognised the crucial role played by the innovation system in the creation of a knowledge-based society and economy and hence in economic and social development.  It has also recognised the critical part played by the tertiary education sector in the innovation system.  The sector is a very important producer of research and hence of new knowledge – producing more than 60% of the nation’s research outputs.  It also has the responsibility for the key task of training researchers for the innovation system.

One traditionally important contribution of the universities to the national research effort is in the area of pure basic research, which involves exploring and expanding the frontiers of knowledge.  The Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) has been developed by the Government to provide a greater focus on the quality of research in the tertiary education sector.  The purpose of the PBRF is to encourage tertiary institutions to improve research performance at all levels in the system.

The PBRF avoids a simple quantitative assessment of research output (and the consequent conceptual and implementation difficulties that characterise such systems) by taking a holistic view of research quality and focusing on a qualitative, expert-led assessment of each researcher’s ‘best’ outputs.  As such, the PBRF provides an excellent way of assessing the overall quality of research from the tertiary education sector.

How We Are Going

Following the review of all of the portfolios of all of the staff in each broad area, the work of each eligible staff member is assessed as being within one of four research quality categories:

  • Category A, which means that the researcher is conducting highly original or innovative research recognised as being of world class standard
  • Category B, which characterises a researcher whose work is original or innovative, recognised in New Zealand or elsewhere, esteemed by the academic community beyond the researcher’s own institution
  • Category C, meaning the researcher applies existing methodologies, acknowledged by peers as having a sound research base, or
  • Category R, which means that the person is a developing researcher or else is considered ‘research inactive’.

In 2006, 33.0% of academic staff in tertiary institutions were assessed as having achieved A or B quality research, that is, producing work that is at least original or innovative, and recognised in New Zealand or elsewhere.  This represents a 14% increase on the corresponding figure in 2003.


Figure 1: Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) eligible staff by research quality category (2003 and 2006)
inID-2031-fig1

Six hundred staff (7.4%) were assessed as conducting highly original or innovative research recognised as being of world class standard in 2006, compared with 5.7% in 2003.  The proportion of staff achieving an ‘R’ rating declined from 39.9% in 2003 to 32.5% in 2006, a decrease of 23%.

References


Tertiary Education Commission (2007). Performance Based Research Fund: Evaluating Research Excellence – The 2006 Assessment. Wellington: Tertiary Education Commission.

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