Producing, managing and owning knowledge in the 21st century university

The use, creation and dissemination of the products of research is a core function of Australian universities, and critical if research is toimpact in the real world. It is regulated by intellectual property laws, sector-wide grant conditions, licensing agreements with libraries and university policies on intellectual property ownership, authorship, open access and engagement. International law and practice creates another layer of regulation. Navigating this terrain is the responsibility of every academic and manager, but it is a complex, incoherent framework. Mapping it with an eye toward harmonization and coherence will better advance public goals, in particular improve access to research for impact and engagement.

To reclaim value from publicly funded research, and to ensure that research has real world effects and is conducted in a way that engages external stakeholders, we need to better understand the way intellectual property laws and licensing decision-making are currently operating in the university context. We also need to manage their interaction with funding conditions, sector-wide management and other policies that regulate what academics can do in the classroom and as researchers, public speakers and writers. The current policy framework is incoherent, which creates the serious risk that university research will fail in meeting its objectives; that globally, Australia’s research impact will be reduced, and that universities and funders will waste public resources paying unnecessary copyright fees. This project maps the existing regulations, licence conditions and practices, assessing them with a view to harmonization across the sector and in line with UK and EU university policies that have proven effective in supporting broader public access to research. It also addresses these issues in the context of indigenous knowledge perspectives.

DMRC research program

This project contributes to the research within the following DMRC research program:

Governing Digital Societies

Project team


Project funding

  • ARC Discovery Project (2020 – 2022)

collection of open books