Planning for and Tracking Research Impact: Australian Research Council Framework

  • Komla Tsey


Researchers worldwide are increasingly required to report the societal impact of their research as part of national research productivity assessments. Researchers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have a particularly high level of expertise in impact, which has grown out of Indigenous people’s determination to take greater control and ownership of research not only to achieve benefits for the communities where the research is done but also to share the lessons with others. As a researcher, the way to prove one’s worth in the research community is to demonstrate research impact. Research impact studies and the methods used to measure and report research impact are still in development. They will change and evolve. What is unlikely to change is the importance of impact reporting. This chapter examines the challenges involved in developing an impact case study for Family Wellbeing Empowerment research in the context of an Australian Research Council research impact assessment exercise. It describes the way researchers need to imagine from the outset the different types of impact their research is likely to have over the short, medium and longer terms, to enable them to plan for and record these data progressively for impact measurement and reporting, whatever form these may take.


  1. Australian Research Council. (2017a). Engagement and impact assessment pilot 2017. Australian Research Council. Retrieved December 18, 2018, from Accessed 18 December 2018.
  2. Australian Research Council. (2017b). EI 2018 Submission guidelines. Australian Research Council. Retrieved December 18, 2018, from
  3. Befani, B., & Stedman-Bryce, G. (2017). Process tracing and Bayesian updating for impact evaluation. Evaluation, 23(1), 42–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown, C. (2010). What's in it for me? My story of becoming a facilitator of an Aboriginal Empowerment Program. Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal, 34(5), 12.Google Scholar
  5. Brown, C. (2011). You get help and you give help: My role as an Aboriginal Family Wellbeing facilitator. Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal, 35, 24–28.Google Scholar
  6. Gibson, T. (2004). Family wellbeing: My story. Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal, 28(6), 3–5.Google Scholar
  7. Haswell, M. R., Kavanagh, D., Tsey, K., Reilly, L., Cadet-James, Y., Laliberte, A., et al. (2010). Psychometric validation of the Growth and Empowerment Measure (GEM) applied with Indigenous Australians. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 44(9), 791–799. Scholar
  8. Heyeres, M., Tsey, K., Yang, Y., Yan, L., & Jiang, H. (2018). The characteristics and reporting quality of research impact case studies: A systematic review. Evaluation and Program Planning, 73, 10–23. Scholar
  9. Kinchin, I., Doran, C. M., McCalman, J., Jacups, S., Tsey, K., Lines, K., et al. (2017a). Delivering an empowerment intervention to a remote Indigenous child safety workforce: Its economic cost from an agency perspective. Evaluation and Program Planning, 64, 85–89. Scholar
  10. Kinchin, I., Jacups, S., Tsey, K., & Lines, K. (2015). An empowerment intervention for Indigenous communities: An outcome assessment. BMC Psychology, 3(29).
  11. Kinchin, I., McCalman, J., Bainbridge, R., Tsey, K., & Watkin Lui, F. (2017b). Does Indigenous health research have impact? A systematic review of reviews. International Journal for Equity in Health, 16(1), 52. Scholar
  12. Kitau, R., Whiteside, M., Kinchin, I., Hane-Nou, G., & Tsey, K. (2017). Transferring the Aboriginal Australian family wellbeing empowerment program from a Papua New Guinea University context to broader community settings: A feasibility study. Pacific Journal of Medical Sciences, 17(1), 22–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. McCalman, J., Bainbridge, R., Brown, C., Tsey, K., & Clarke, A. (2018). The Aboriginal Australian Family Wellbeing program: A historical analysis of the conditions that enabled its spread. Frontiers in Public Health, 6, 26. Scholar
  14. McCalman, J., Tsey, K., Reilly, L., Connolly, B., Fagan, R., Earles, W., et al. (2010). Taking control of health: Gurriny’s story of organisational change. Third Sector Review, 16, 29–47.Google Scholar
  15. McCalman, J. R. (2013). The transfer and implementation of an Aboriginal Australian wellbeing program: A grounded theory study. Implementation Science, 8, 1–9. Scholar
  16. McEwan, A. B., Tsey, K., McCalman, J., & Travers, H. J. (2010). Empowerment and change management in Aboriginal organisations: A case study. Australian Health Review, 34(3), 360–367. Scholar
  17. Onnis, L., Klieve, H., & Tsey, K. (2018). The evidence needed to demonstrate impact: A synthesis of the evidence from a phased social and emotional wellbeing intervention. Evaluation and Program Planning, 70, 35–43. Scholar
  18. Prince, J., Jeffrey, N., Baird, L., Kingsburra, S., & Tipiloura, B. (2018). Stories from community: How suicide rates fell in two Indigenous communities. Canberra: Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation.Google Scholar
  19. Tsey, K. (2015). A brighter future for life in the tropics: Translating big picture academic vision into practical research. Journal of Tropical Psychology, 5, 1–4. Scholar
  20. Tsey, K., & Every, A. (2000). Evaluating Aboriginal empowerment programs: The case of Family WellBeing. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 24(5), 509–514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Tsey, K., Lawson, K., Kinchin, I., Bainbridge, R., McCalman, J., Watkin, F., Cadet-James, Y., & Rossetto, A. (2016). Evaluating research impact: The development of a ‘RESEARCH for IMPACT’ TOOL. Frontiers in Public Health, 4, 160. Scholar
  22. Tsey, K., Lui, S. M. (Carrie), Heyeres, M., Yan, L., & Pryce, J. (2018). Developing soft skills: Exploring the feasibility of an Australian Well-being program for health managers and leaders in Timor-Leste. SAGE Open, 8(4), 1–13. Scholar
  23. Tsey, K., Onnis, L. A., Whiteside, M., McCalman, J., Lui, S. M. C., Klieve, H., et al. (2019). Assessing research impact, Australian Research Council criteria and the case of Family Wellbeing research. Program Planning and Evaluation, 73, 176–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tsey, K., Whiteside, M., Daly, S., Deemal, A., Gibson, T., Cadet-James, Y., et al. (2005). Adapting the ‘family wellbeing’ empowerment program to the needs of remote Indigenous school children. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 29(2), 112–116. Scholar
  25. Tsey, K., Wilson, A., Haswell-Elkins, M., Whiteside, M., McCalman, J., Cadet-James, Y., et al. (2007). Empowerment-based research methods: A 10-year approach to enhancing Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing. Australasian Psychiatry, 15, S34–S38. Scholar
  26. Whiteside, M., Bould, E., Tsey, K., Venville, A., Cadet-James, Y., & Morris, M. E. (2017). Promoting twenty-first-century student competencies: A wellbeing approach. Australian Social Work, 70(3), 324–336. Scholar
  27. Whiteside, M., Klieve, H., Millgate, N., Webb, B., Gabriel, Z., McPherson, L., et al. (2016). Connecting and strengthening young Aboriginal men: A family wellbeing pilot study. Australian Social Work, 69(2), 241–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Whiteside, M., MacLean, S., Callinan, S., Marshall, P., Nolan, S., & Tsey, K. (2018). Acceptability of an Aboriginal wellbeing intervention for supporters of people using methamphetamines. Australian Social Work, 71(3), 358–366. Scholar
  29. Whiteside, M., Tsey, K., Cadet-James, Y., & McCalman, J. (2014). Promoting Aboriginal health: The family wellbeing empowerment approach. New York: Springer Science & Business Media.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Whiteside, M., Tsey, K., & Earles, W. (2011). Locating empowerment in the context of Indigenous Australia. Australian Social Work, 64, 113–129. Scholar
  31. Whiteside, M., Tsey, K., McCalman, J., Cadet-James, Y., & Wilson, A. (2006). Empowerment as a framework for Indigenous workforce development and organisational change. Australian Social Work, 59, 422–434. Scholar
  32. Yan, L., Yinghong, Y., Lui, S. M., Whiteside, M., & Tsey, K. (2018). Teaching “soft skills” to university students in China: The feasibility of an Australian approach. Educational Studies, 1–17. Scholar
  33. Zuchowski, I., Miles, D., Gair, S., & Tsey, K. (2019). Social work research with industry: A systematic literature review of engagement and impact. The British Journal of Social Work, 1–26.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Komla Tsey
    • 1
  1. 1.James Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia

Personalised recommendations