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Building research capacity

One of the aims of the National Disability Research Partnership is to build disability research capacity. First we wanted to understand what good research capacity looks like, so that we can think about how to get there.


What do we mean by

What does high research
capacity look like?

What do we need to do to get there?

Part 1: What do we mean by research capacity?

We asked researchers at the University of New South Wales Canberra to help us answer this question. 

Research capacity is individuals, teams, organisations and disciplines having the ability (research expertise, knowledge and skills) to undertake research activities and disseminate research findings, as well as the funding, resources / time, and incentives to undertake and engage in research.

You can read the full paper at the link below.

Part 2: What does high research capacity look like?

We asked researchers at University of New South Wales Canberra to help us with these questions. They talked to 43 people from a range of backgrounds. The key messages from this research are:


  • Disability research needs to engage people with disability and the disability community in all stages 

  • A disability research agenda is needed to prioritise areas for research.

  • More funding pathways are needed to support a broad range of disability research

  • Change ethics frameworks and reviews to better support inclusive disability research

  • Develop research knowledge and skills across the disability field

  • Change university structures to address challenges such as ableism, accessibility and short-term employment 

  • Develop long-term partnerships across the disability field

  • Support better networking and information sharing

  • Improve knowledge translation that shares research findings clearly, in a range of accessible ways

  • A database to store a record of existing and current disability research

  • Link and use existing datasets to access and share de-identified data for research. An example is the National Disability Data Asset.


Building disability research capacity will need resources, better partnerships, valuing all forms of knowledge and sharing power. Most of all, it needs a change in mindsets, to understand the value that inclusive disability research brings. This change in mindsets is needed to open more opportunities for people with disability to become sector leaders, high-level researchers and lead programs of disability research – as the saying goes, ‘nothing about us without us’.

Read the full paper at the link below

Part 3: What do we need to get there?

We are now working on a plan for how the NDRP can build research capacity, based on the findings from the research. Watch this space for more information. We will share outcomes of this project over the coming months. If you have any questions you can contact Tessa de Vries, NDRP Coordinator on or 03 8344 2813.

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