Excellence in Research

Michael Arthur


World-class universities are defined as providing an excellent undergraduate and postgraduate education, informed by both the quality and extent of their research activity and profile. They conduct research of the very highest international quality and their work informs some of the most important scientific, technical, arts, humanities and social developments in global human society.

Although such world-leading research features prominently, most world-class universities pride themselves in the quality of their graduates and their ability to contribute to global society. To be recognised as being among the very best universities in the world, both education and research must be at the very highest international level of quality, and there is evidence that both are having a significant impact on global society, through translation, innovation and policy formation.

The relentless pursuit of new knowledge is a characteristic of global human endeavour that is of fundamental importance to the future of our planet. Research excellence may be provided by universities, national institutes, government agencies or by industry, but it is critically important that it develops widely across the entire spectrum of global cultures. This diversity of engaged cultures is a critically important element of the most creative research environments and it is an essential element of solving the world's most complex problems.

Definition of Research

There are many different definitions of research. The OECD defines research as “creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications” [1]. This definition works well across the panoply of disciplines, particularly if the phrase 'new applications' is interpreted broadly to include learned contributions to the arts and humanities and to social and public policy.

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