#HPRW10: How do we make the research effort into high performance sport more effective?

Day 3 started with a Panel presentation on the question of How do we make the research effort into high performance sport more effective?

The Panel members were: Allan Hahn, Kristine Toohey, Martin Fitzsimons, Michael McKenna, Gavin Reynolds and myself.
Allan Hahn opened the discussion of his approach to the topic:

  • Identify right problems
  • Ensure critical mass of resources
  • Acceess to expertise
  • Short, medium, long term
  • Accommodate different agendas
  • Integrate efforts of geographically distributed groups.

Allan explored a Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) model for building an effective research network. He noted the key features of a CRC model. Allan wondered if AIS Performance Research Centre embodies a CRC-like organisation. To date:

  • The Performance Research Centre at AIS has been restructured
  • A new research funding model has been introduced
  • Working to identify the right problems
  • Seeking to obtaining access to world-leading expertise to build a critical mass of resources
  • Developed a vibrant education program (nineteen universities involved)
  • Pathways to commercialisation explored

Allan noted that the Performance Research Centre has many of the characteristics of a CRC. The main constraint is that there is no long-term commitment to funding for research. Allan noted that a greater involvement with State Institutes and Academies is required. He added too that there is no centralised governance structure to integrate fully the various activities. At present the Performance Research Centre is acting as a hub for the spokes of research (with the exception of a more direct, funded CSIRO relationship).
Allan identified disadvantages and advantages faced by the Performance Research Centre:

  • There is limited interaction between partnerships
  • The activities of the Centre is labour intensive
  • The work is financially demanding

However, the advantages include:

  • Close links and partnership
  • Direct say in how inputs are used
  • Simplified agreements
  • High flexibility
  • Capaitalising on other research activities

These need collaborative skills. Partners have organisational priorities.
Allan identified the major gaps in the work of the Performance Research Centre:

  • There is no national endorsement of the Performance Research Centre
  • Labour-intensive work (liaison with partners, communication, formal agreements)
  • Funding constraints (the Performance Research Centre is linked to AIS funds at moment)
  • Sustainability (many of the Performance Research Centre partnerships are short-term)

Allan concluded his presentation with a discussion of the framework to capitalise on activities to date.
I presented the Connected ideas I have contained in posts on this blog.
Kristine Toohey presented some information about the Australian Sport Research Network (ASRN). The ASRN aims to achieve research as a group that we may not be able achieve as individual institutions. Kristine gave some historical background to AIS/ASRN links. The ASRN has been working for three years and acknowledges that universities need to do industry-focused research. Kristine reported that the ASRN is working on a constitution. There are five aims at the moment: establishing strategic alliances; developing sport research; delivering evidence-based research; informing policy and investment; contributing to education and career pathways.
ASRN outputs include an ARC linkage grant for Talent Identification and Development in sport and a bid in progress for a CRC (with the Australian Sports Commission).

Martin Fitzsimons presented a sport institute perspective.  Martin noted that this was a personal account. He identified four themes about our national research system:

  • There is no clear objective for collaborative research
  • There is limited funding for research
  • Collaboration
  • Sharing knowledge and resources

Martin suggested an independent body should oversee high performance research in Australia. This entity would: understand the resources available; act as a repository for outcomes and assist with research planning; assess research applications, monitor progress; disseminate research findings; and making the outcomes available to all participants in the system.
Michael McKenna shared news of the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) at Victory University: the aim is to be a global leader in sport, exercise and active living. World-class infrastructure is being developed using a whole of University approach.Michael identified three research areas: sport, exercise and active living. He outlined these activities and key directions for multidisciplinary perspectives. Michael noted the development of work in Active Living. The Footscray Campus will be completed in September 2010 (a $70 million facility). Overall the aim is to develop laboratories for five discipline areas:

  • Exercise physiology
  • Biomechanics
  • Biochemistry and molecular biology
  • Sport technology and engineering
  • Motor control

Michael noted the importance of mobile technologies and their use off-campus with Melbourne sport groups (a $100 million infrastructure including Whitten Oval and local hospital training and education facilities). Michael outlined the staffing for ISEAL and noted Damian Farrow’s joint appointment with the AIS. Michael outlined ISEAL’s investment in elite sport. ISEAL is developing national and international partnerships to progress its work.
Michael concluded his presentation with a consideration of links between ISEAL and the State Institutes and Academies’ network. He outlined possible research areas, identified personnel and expertise, and the availability of facilities on a Melbourne campus. Michael noted how complementary ISEAL can be to other work within the sport system.

Gavin Reynolds presented the final part of the Panel session. He discussed the role of the National Sport Information Centre (NSIC) in the national system. He outlined the networks that NSIC link to including IASI, AUSPIN, ASRN and new emerging (often ephemeral) networks. Gavin identified four areas as a focus for his presentation about the work of the NSIC:

  • Access
  • Analysis
  • Advice
  • Affiliation

Gavin presented an enterprise, integrated knowledge sharing business model for Australian sport. He concluded how NSIC can address needs, link to audiences (communities), optimise output and think as an Australian sport research enterprise.
Photo Credits
Bird Houses
The FlickrVerse


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