This article reports on selected findings of the first stage of a qualitative study of academic work in Australian universities. This stage examined the perceptions senior academic administrators from the humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional areas hold of the work roles of academics. The article presents their perceptions of 'research' and 'scholarship' and the link between the two, as well as the interrelationships between research, scholarship and teaching. The findings show a high level of consensus and coherence in the views presented. The article examines possible reasons for such a unanimity of perception and raises further questions for investigation.