The Research & Innovation Office


Research Excellence Publication Incentive Scheme


USP currently has a policy to reward staff publishing papers in highly ranked journals with a cash bonus in their salaries. The incentive scheme is based upon a formula of $5,000 for an A* publication, $3,000 for an A publication and $500 for a B publication, pro-rata for the number of authors on each publication. Research books, book chapters and patents have also been rewarded under the scheme through an equivalence arrangement.

It has been argued that the scheme has been successful to date, since the number of high ranked publications authored by University staff has been steadily increasing (see Fig. 1 below).

[table id=3 /]

Fig 1: USP registered  the highest number of publications in 2018, with 239 internationally recognized publications indexed by Scopus (see Fig. 1). This has surpassed the previous record of 218 set in 2017.  As at 10 June 2019, there are 95 new publications for the year 2019. The estimate for 2019 is 250.

However, the scheme has also been criticised on a number of grounds:

  1. A significant amount of money that is allocated for research support is in fact used for salary supplements and that this duplicates existing reward mechanisms in place through the Staff Review process.
  2. Money spent on personal rewards is poor use of the research budget as this money could be more effectively invested in research activity and support.
  3. The extension of the scheme to include Australian Innovations Patents provides poor value because the registration process does not involve any assessment of the worth of the patent and evidence of commercialisation of the patent is not currently a criterion of the USP scheme.

For these reasons SMT has agreed the following revisions to the Research Excellence Publication Incentive scheme.

The New Scheme

The elements of the new scheme will be as follows:

  1. Individual cash awards will be replaced by money allocated for research purposes. The principle will be retained that those individuals responsible for achieving University publication goals receive the benefits from those achievements. However, as we have been advised that tax implications mean that money cannot be held in individual research accounts there will be a Faculty fund from which money will be allocated for specific research activities on the basis of contribution. For example, if an individual is responsible for bringing $1000 into the Faculty fund they will be eligible for funding to support research activity from the fund up to $1000
  2. This fund will be administered at the Faculty level but half yearly reports must be submitted to the Research Office so that the relationship between contribution to the fund and allocations from the fund are scrutinised for fairness.
  3. In cases where allocations are disputed the DVCRII will make a final determination.
  4. Legitimate research purposes include, but may not be confined to, conference attendance, hire of research assistants, payment for research materials and facilities, graduate studentships, research support such as transcriptions, etc. In cases where there is a dispute about validity of the proposed expenditure the decision of the DVCRII will be final.
  5. The scheme will be a points based scheme. Staff will earn points for research outputs as follows:
    • Category A* publications – 6 points
    • Category A publications – 4 points
    • Category B publications – 2 points

    All USP staff members identified as authors on a research publication will be eligible to receive rewards pro rata (Appendix A provides guidance on the requirements of a research publication). Contributing authors will be expected to identify their contribution to the publication and in all cases contributions must be significant. For example, having merely supervised a student’s thesis will not be sufficient for the purposes of these awards. (Please see Appendix B for more detailed guidance on authorship requirements).

  6. A staff member must have received a minimum of 6 points (the equivalent of an A* paper) to be eligible for an award. Professors will not be eligible for an award without having recorded at least 1 A or A* ranked paper.
  7. Patents and Category C papers will no longer be eligible for rewards
  8. All rewards must stay within the allocated budget and the worth of a “point” under the system will be determined on the basis of the ratio between total eligible points and the allocated budget in each year.

APPENDIX A: Definition of Research & Experimental Development

USP adopts the Definition of Research & Experimental Development by the Australian Government’s Department of Education & Training, as outlined in the 2019 Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC).[1]

The HERDC definition of research and experimental development, abbreviated as R&D, is consistent with the OECD definition of research and experimental development set out in the 2015 Frascati Manual. R&D is defined as:

‘creative and systematic work undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge – including knowledge of humankind, culture and society – and to devise new applications of available knowledge[2].’

For an activity to be an R&D activity it must satisfy all 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 (systematic), and
  • to lead to results that could be possibly reproduced (transferable and/or reproducible)[3].

The above definition encompasses pure and oriented basic research, applied research and experimental development, defined as follows:

  • Basic research is experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundations of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view.
    • Pure basic research is carried out for the advancement of knowledge, without seeking economic or social benefits or making an active effort to apply the results to practical problems or to transfer the results to sectors responsible for their application.
    • Oriented basic research is carried out with the expectation that it will produce a broad base of knowledge likely to form the basis of the solution to recognised or expected current or future problems or possibilities.
  • Applied Research is original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge. It is, however, directed primarily towards a specific, practical aim or objective (including a client-driven purpose).
  • Experimental development is systematic work, drawing on knowledge gained from research and practical experience and producing additional knowledge, which is directed to producing new products or processes or to improving existing products or processes.

Activities that meet the above definition of R&D include:

  1. professional, technical, administrative or clerical support staff directly engaged in activities essential to the conduct of R&D
  2. the activities of HDR[4] students enrolled at the HEP
  3. the development of HDR training and courses
  4. the supervision of HDR students enrolled at the HEP
  5. R&D into applications software, new programming languages and new operating systems
  6. prototype development and testing
  7. construction and operation of a pilot plant where the primary objective is to make further improvements
  8. trial production where there is full scale testing and subsequent further design and engineering
  9. phases I to III of clinical trials.

Activities that do not meet the definition of R&D include:

  1. scientific and technical information services,
  2. general purpose or routine data collection,
  3. standardisation and routine testing
  4. feasibility studies (except into R&D projects)
  5. specialised, routine medical care
  6. literature reviews that are predominantly a summary of the current knowledge and findings of a particular R&D field or topic and do not include any critical assessment or report any new findings or original experimental work
  7. commercial, legal and administrative aspects of patenting, plant breeders rights, copyright, material transfer agreements or intellectual property licensing, option and assignment activities, and royalties
  8. routine computer programming, systems work or software maintenance
  9. stages of product development that do not meet the five R&D criteria above
  10. pre-production development
  11. market research
  12. construction of fully tested prototypes for marketing purposes
  13. after sales service and trouble-shooting
  14. industrial engineering and design for production purposes
  15. artistic performance or expression
  16. R&D financing and support services.

Appendix B: Defining the Role of Authors and Contributors [5] The following Guidelines are drawn from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors Recommendations.

1. Why Authorship Matters

Authorship confers credit and has important academic, social, and financial implications. Authorship also implies responsibility and accountability for published work. The following recommendations are intended to ensure that contributors who have made substantive intellectual contributions to a paper are given credit as authors, but also that contributors credited as authors understand their role in taking responsibility and being accountable for what is published.

Because authorship does not communicate what contributions qualified an individual to be an author, some journals now request and publish information about the contributions of each person named as having participated in a submitted study, at least for original research. Editors are strongly encouraged to develop and implement a contributorship policy. Such policies remove much of the ambiguity surrounding contributions, but leave unresolved the question of the quantity and quality of contribution that qualify an individual for authorship. The ICMJE has thus developed criteria for authorship that can be used by all journals, including those that distinguish authors from other contributors.

2. Who Is an Author?

Authorship be based on the following 4 criteria:

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  • Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

In addition to being accountable for the parts of the work he or she has done, an author should be able to identify which co-authors are responsible for specific other parts of the work. In addition, authors should have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of their co-authors.

All those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged—see Section II.A.3 below. These authorship criteria are intended to reserve the status of authorship for those who deserve credit and can take responsibility for the work. The criteria are not intended for use as a means to disqualify colleagues from authorship who otherwise meet authorship criteria by denying them the opportunity to meet criterion #s 2 or 3. Therefore, all individuals who meet the first criterion should have the opportunity to participate in the review, drafting, and final approval of the manuscript.

The individuals who conduct the work are responsible for identifying who meets these criteria and ideally should do so when planning the work, making modifications as appropriate as the work progresses. We encourage collaboration and co-authorship with colleagues in the locations where the research is conducted. It is the collective responsibility of the authors, not the journal to which the work is submitted, to determine that all people named as authors meet all four criteria; it is not the role of journal editors to determine who qualifies or does not qualify for authorship or to arbitrate authorship conflicts. If agreement cannot be reached about who qualifies for authorship, the institution(s) where the work was performed, not the journal editor, should be asked to investigate. If authors request removal or addition of an author after manuscript submission or publication, journal editors should seek an explanation and signed statement of agreement for the requested change from all listed authors and from the author to be removed or added.

The corresponding author is the one individual who takes primary responsibility for communication with the journal during the manuscript submission, peer review, and publication process, and typically ensures that all the journal’s administrative requirements, such as providing details of authorship, ethics committee approval, clinical trial registration documentation, and gathering conflict of interest forms and statements, are properly completed, although these duties may be delegated to one or more coauthors. The corresponding author should be available throughout the submission and peer review process to respond to editorial queries in a timely way, and should be available after publication to respond to critiques of the work and cooperate with any requests from the journal for data or additional information should questions about the paper arise after publication. Although the corresponding author has primary responsibility for correspondence with the journal, the ICMJE recommends that editors send copies of all correspondence to all listed authors.

When a large multi-author group has conducted the work, the group ideally should decide who will be an author before the work is started and confirm who is an author before submitting the manuscript for publication. All members of the group named as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, including approval of the final manuscript, and they should be able to take public responsibility for the work and should have full confidence in the accuracy and integrity of the work of other group authors. They will also be expected as individuals to complete conflict-of-interest disclosure forms.

Some large multi-author groups designate authorship by a group name, with or without the names of individuals. When submitting a manuscript authored by a group, the corresponding author should specify the group name if one exists, and clearly identify the group members who can take credit and responsibility for the work as authors. The byline of the article identifies who is directly responsible for the manuscript, and MEDLINE lists as authors whichever names appear on the byline. If the byline includes a group name, MEDLINE will list the names of individual group members who are authors or who are collaborators, sometimes called non-author contributors, if there is a note associated with the byline clearly stating that the individual names are elsewhere in the paper and whether those names are authors or collaborators.

3. Non-Author Contributors

Contributors who meet fewer than all 4 of the above criteria for authorship should not be listed as authors, but they should be acknowledged. Examples of activities that alone (without other contributions) do not qualify a contributor for authorship are acquisition of funding; general supervision of a research group or general administrative support; and writing assistance, technical editing, language editing, and proofreading. Those whose contributions do not justify authorship may be acknowledged individually or together as a group under a single heading (e.g. “Clinical Investigators” or “Participating Investigators”), and their contributions should be specified (e.g., “served as scientific advisors,” “critically reviewed the study proposal,” “collected data,” “provided and cared for study patients”, “participated in writing or technical editing of the manuscript”).

Because acknowledgment may imply endorsement by acknowledged individuals of a study’s data and conclusions, editors are advised to require that the corresponding author obtain written permission to be acknowledged from all acknowledged individuals.


[2] OECD (2015), Frascati Manual 2015: Guidelines for Collecting and Reporting Data on Research and Experimental Development, The 46-48.Measurement of Scientific, Technological and Innovation Activities, OECD Publishing, Paris, pp 44-45.

[3] Ibid. pp

[4] Higher degree by research (HDR) training is training undertaken by students to achieve a Research Doctorate or Research Masters. A Research Doctorate means a Level 10 Doctoral Degree (Research) qualification as described in the Australian Qualifications Framework Professional Doctorates may be included but only where at least two-thirds of the qualification is research.and a Research Masters means a Level 9 Masters Degree (Research) qualification as described in the Australian Qualifications Framework.

[5] 2019 International Committee of Medical Journal Editors;

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