Russell Ross' research interests are in public policy and labour market issues. He has written extensively on the Australian labour market, focussing on the underutilisation of labour, the economics of childcare, the participation of married women, and the labour market status of Indigenous Australians and other disadvantaged groups. He has written a number of reports for both Federal and state governments, and has advised the ABC on labour market issues. He has appeared as an expert witness before the Australian Arbitration and Conciliation Commission and the New South Wales Industrial Court. He is on the editorial board for the Australian Journal of Labour Economics. Russell is co-author with Keith Whitfield of The Australian Labour Market, a textbook for senior economics and industrial relations students used at over 20 Australian universities. The third edition was published in 2009 and they are working on the fourth edition. He was president of the Australian Society of Labour Economists (ASLE) from 2007 to 2010 having previously been vice president from 2004 to 2006.
Russell's teaching interests are in applied microeconomics; especially labour economics and public economics. He has taught extensively to both undergraduate and postgraduate students in Australia, North America and New Zealand. He was the Faculty's Associate Dean for Postgraduate Studies between 1995 and 2000, a period coinciding with a fivefold increase in the number of postgraduate students enrolled in the Faculty. In July 2000, the portfolio was split in two and he continued as Associate Dean for Higher Degree by Research Studies until 2002. From 2002 to 2004 and 2007 to 2010 he was chair of the Economics Discipline.