Ever since the Australian Research Council (ARC) recognised “non-traditional research outputs” (NTROs) as valid expressions of research, developing benchmarks to measure the quality of artistic research has been of increasing interest to the Australian higher education sector. Because research quality (as measured through the triennial Excellence in Research Australia exercise) is a driver for block funding to higher education institutions, decisions about the quality of “artistic research” need to be transparent, based on peer review and justifiable to government auditors. With these requirements in mind, in 2014 the University of Sydney adopted University Guidelines for Non- Traditional Research Outputs. Following the framework and terminology developed by the ARC, the Guidelines recognise that:
[r]esearch output may consist of any form of publicly available, assessable materials embodying research, whether produced by writing, making, composing, designing, performing, or curating. (The University of Sydney, 2014)
Artistic research (“creative work as research”) is placed within a conceptual framework embracing not only standard print research outputs and but also other “non-traditional” outputs of traditional research (scholarly translations, critical editions, technical standards, exhibitions of archaeological or scientific objects, and research reports for external bodies). Complementing the general criteria and principles, the University Guidelines also include specific criteria and output weightings for each type of NTRO.
Recognising the inherently unsatisfactory nature of any system of quality metrics, the presentation will discuss issues arising from the development and implementation of the guidelines within the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.