Socio-Economic Objectives (SEO)

The ANZSRC SEO classification allows R&D activity in Australia and New Zealand to be categorised according to the intended purpose or outcome of the research, rather than the processes or techniques used in order to achieve this objective.

The purpose categories include processes, products, health, education and other social and environmental aspects in Australia and New Zealand that R&D activity aims to improve.

SEO codes are required for both the ERA assessment and the Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Research and Development Higher Education reports which the University is required to participate in biennially.

The SEO is a hierarchical classification with four levels, namely Sector (letter), Divisions (2 digits), Groups (4 digits) and Objectives (6 digits).

While the Sector forms part of the hierarchical structure of the SEO, it is used only for grouping divisions for publication of R&D data, not for data collection. Sectors are identified by a letter, while the lower levels of the classification are identified by unique numbers.

Each Division is based on a broad research objective. Groups within each Division are those which are aligned towards the same objective as the Division. Each Group is a collection of related research Objectives. Groups and research objectives are categorised to the Divisions with which they are most closely aligned.

An example of the hierarchical structure of the SEO classification system:

Sector B: Economic Development    
Division   86 Manufacturing   
Group    8607 Agricultural Chemicals  
Objective     860702 Chemical Fertilisers

Due to their unique nature some divisions have only one Group within them. For example, the Defence and Expanding Knowledge Divisions each contain only one group. However, these Divisions still follow hierarchical principles and contain a number of Objectives.

Sector E, Expanding Knowledge is for the categorisation of R&D which does not have an identifiable socio-economic objective. This is usually the case for pure basic research or strategic basic research.

The conceptual framework adopted for the development of the SEO uses R&D activities according to the objective or outcome of the research undertaken, rather than the processes and techniques used in the R&D.

Consistent use of the following general procedures should ensure consistent and successful use of the classification among users.

A research project or research program should first be considered in its broadest sense and in terms of the dominant beneficiary of the research output at the conclusion of the research project or research program. A research project or research program is to be allocated to a SEO objective in a hierarchical manner. This is achieved by:

  • first determining the most relevant sector in which the largest component of the research project or research program is being performed; then
  • determining the most relevant division within that sector; then
  • determining the most relevant group within that division; and then
  • determining the most relevant objective within that group.

Many R&D projects will be a homogeneous body of work directed towards a specific objective. These are more straightforward to categorise. However, if the project or program is sufficiently large or complex (in terms of research areas) then multiple fields should be selected and attributed with a proportion of resources relative to the project's or program's total R&D expenditure. If the disaggregation is difficult, consideration of relative importance may indicate a primary objective only (whether a specific or more general subject focus).

Where a defined objective cannot be identified within a group for a research project or research program, the 'not elsewhere classified' category at the objective level is to be used.

Sector A: Defence
  81 Defence
Sector B: Economic Development
  82 Plant Production and Plant Primary Products 
83 Animal Production and Animal Primary Products 
84 Mineral Resources (excl. Energy Resources) 
85 Energy 
86 Manufacturing
87 Construction 
88 Transport 
89 Information and Communication Services 
90 Commercial Services and Tourism 
91 Economic Framework
Sector C: Society
  92 Health 
93 Education and Training 
94 Law, Politics and Community Services 
95 Cultural Understanding
Sector D: Environment
  96 Environment
Sector E: Expanding Knowledge
97 Expanding Knowledge

(Commonwealth of Australia, 2008)

Please contact the Research Office for more information.