Researchers should contact the Office of Research when they intend to:
- Conduct a research project that involves partners/individual external to Southern Cross University,
- Employ an independent (non-Southern Cross University) contractor,
- Have a postgraduate student involved in a project funded by an external party.
A written agreement that is signed by both parties clarifies the intent behind the agreement, and the arrangements for conducting your project. This becomes a legally binding document to ensure that both parties carry out their obligations pertaining to the project.
Even if you have a long standing working relationship with the party, or there is only a small amount of money involved in the project, it is always necessary to have a written agreement to ensure both parties understand their obligations and to remove any ambiguity. It also provides a course of action should either party default on their obligations.
Research or Consultancy?
As a general guide, a research project is where new knowledge will be created and there is an intention to publish.
A consultancy or commercial activity is generally where existing knowledge is applied and publications are unlikely as outputs are typically confidential (eg. testing services, expert opinion, training, etc).
In the Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) Specifications the Commonwealth Department of Education defines research 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".
Your Head of Work Unit can assist in determining if your activity is research or a consultancy/commercial activity. Agreements and projects can be referred to using a variety of terms, such as 'research', 'consultancy', 'contract research', 'sponsored research', 'research consultancy', etc - but you should be able to identify and know whether your project overall is research or not using the general guide above. Please note: the Office of Research provides the HERDC return each year to the Commonwealth Government. The return is subject to external audit for any and all projects included in the return.
If your project is research, the Office of Research provides support for research projects, including research grant applications and funding agreements for research projects.
If you have a consultancy or commercial activity, please contact Southern Cross University Legal Office directly.