A former Rio Tinto executive from outside the academic world will lead the Federal Government’s research training system review.

John McGagh - former global head of innovation for Rio Tinto - will head a group of eight academics, five of which come from Group of Eight universities.

The review will look at issues including new research training models, the structure of PhD programs, industry engagement and alternative entry pathways into a PhD.

It is just one of six reviews that the government has launched into the research and innovation system.

In all of the far-reaching reviews, the government wants its experts to find ways to help boost the commercial returns from research.

It says this will ensure researchers have closer links with industry to commercialise their discoveries.

Opponents say research should be supported for its own sake, and not twisted into a new way to make money.

The research training system review group - the Australian Council of Learned Academies - includes in addition to Mr McGagh; Helene Marsh, the dean of graduate research at JCU, Mark Western, Director, Institute of Social Science Research at UQ, Jim McCluskey deputy vice-chancellor (research) at the University of Melbourne, Stephen Garton, provost at the University of Sydney, Majella Franzmann, PVC (humanities) at Curtin University, Cindy Gallois, emeritus professor of psychology at UQ, Robyn Owens, DVC (research) at UWA and Michael Barber, former vice-chancellor of Flinders University.