Research definition at Charles Sturt University

Through research and innovation, Charles Sturt University aims to generate meaningful outcomes for industry, government, businesses and communities. We're making an impact regionally, nationally and internationally by contributing to the economy, to individual and societal wellbeing and to social and environmental sustainability.

Definition of research

We have adopted the following definition of research from the Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations (DEEWR):

The essential characteristic of research activity is that it leads to publicly verifiable outcomes which are open to peer appraisal.

For the purposes of reporting research income, Charles Sturt applies the HERDC definition of research. For an activity to be an R&D activity it must satisfy all five core criteria:

  1. Be aimed at new findings (novel)
  2. Be based on original, not obvious, concepts and hypotheses (creative)
  3. Be uncertain about the final outcomes (uncertain)
  4. Be planned and budgeted (systematic)
  5. Lead to results that could be possibly reproduced (transferable and/or reproducible)

The above definition encompasses pure, strategic, applied and experimental research, as defined below.

Types of research activities

There are generally 4 types of activity.

1. Pure basic research

Pure basic research is experimental and theoretical work undertaken to acquire new knowledge without looking for long-term benefits other than the advancement of knowledge.

2. Strategic basic research

Strategic basic research is experimental and theoretical work undertaken to acquire new knowledge directed into specified broad areas that are expected to lead to useful discoveries. It provides the broad base of knowledge necessary to solve recognised practical problems.

3. Applied research

Applied research is original work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge with a specific application in view. It is undertaken either to determine possible uses for the findings of basic research or to determine new ways of achieving some specific and predetermined objectives.

4. Experimental development

Experimental development is systematic work, using existing knowledge gained from research or practical experience, that is directed to producing new materials, products or devices, to installing new processes, systems and services, or to improving substantially those already produced or installed.

Contact the Office of Research Services and Graduate Studies for more information on the definition of Research.

Please refer to the latest Higher Education Research Data Collection Specifications for examples of R&D activities that meet the definition of research.

At Charles Sturt, R&D activities that meet the definition of research should be submitted through the RPR Form in MyResearch.

Activities that do not meet the definition of research should be managed through the relevant Faculty.

If you are unsure, please contact the Grant Development Team at

Creative work and experimental development

Work in this category covers 2 areas.

Creative work

Creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humanity, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications. (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's definition of Research and Experimental Development (R&D).

Research and experimental development

Any activity classified as research and experimental development is characterised by originality. It should have investigation as a primary objective. It should also have the potential to produce results that are sufficiently general for humanity's stock of knowledge (theoretical and/or practical) to be recognisably increased. Most higher education research work would qualify as research and experimental development.