Research Division

Higher Education Research Data Collection

What is HERDC?

The Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) is an annual government reporting requirement for Australian higher education providers. The data collected is used to assess the relative performance of providers in research and research training Research income and research publications data are reported in the collection and both must meet the stringent eligibility requirements outlined in the overarching HERDC specification. 

The HERDC specification is reviewed and updated every year by the Australian Government.  Find out more about the current HERDC specifications. The intention of the HERDC specification is to control the collection of data, thus ensuring that research block grants are distributed fairly, transparently, and in accordance with policy intention.

Why is HERDC Important?

The data reported in HERDC and the Higher Education Student Data Collection (HESDC) informs the allocation of research block grants from government to the higher education sector.  In 2013, $1.67 billion was provided by the Australian Government to eligible higher education providers.  Funding is provided through six performance-based schemes:

Detailed information on the calculation of block grants and the individual grant allocations to universities is available on the department's web page; Research Block Grants.

The HERDC Definition of Research

There are many eligibility requirements that guide the reporting of research income and research publications, but the underlying requirement is that the activity in funded research projects and the content of research publications must comply with the HERDC definition of research as per section 1.3.10:

Research is defined 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 and understandings. This could include synthesis and analysis of previous research to the extent that it leads to new and creative outcomes.

This definition of research is consistent with a broad notion of research and experimental development (R&D) as comprising of creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humanity, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications.

This definition of research 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 HERDC specification details the types of activities that meet the definition of research.

Further information