The Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) is an annual government reporting requirement for Australian higher education providers. Research income data is collected and used to assess the relative performance of providers in research and research training. Each year, the Department of Education and Training release specifications outlining what income can be included. Income that meets these rigorous eligibility requirements are then included in the submission.
The data reported in HERDC and the Higher Education Student Data Collection (HESDC) informs the allocation of research block grants from the Department of Education and Training, to the higher education sector. In 2017, $1.89 billion will be provided, based on the data reported, to higher education providers. Funding is provided through two performance-based schemes:
There are many eligibility prerequisites that guide the reporting of research income, but the underlying requirement is that the activity in the funded research project must comply with the HERDC definition of research, as per section 3:
For an activity to be an R&D activity it must satisfy five core criteria:
To be aimed at new findings (novel),
To be based on original, not obvious, concepts and hypotheses (creative),
To be uncertain about the final outcomes (uncertain),
To be planned and budgeted (systemic), and
To lead to results that could be possibly reproduced (transferable and/or reproducible).
The HERDC specification then details the types of activities that can meet the definition of research, and how they should be classified.