Diana Kelly has been an academic since 1983. Her research has included history of employment and industrial relations, particularly with reference to the steel industry, as well as history of business and management thought, workplace health and safety, workplace bullying, governance in higher education, women in history and aspects of early twentieth century US history. Previously, she taught ER/IR, research methods, and HRM/OB but from 2007 she taught and researched in history. She has been a successful thesis supervisor, having supervised about 15 dissertations to completion since 2003 including in fields of labour studies, radical history, politics, development studies, migration, and children's rights.
She was a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Industrial Relations from 2008 to 2015, and in 2018 was appointed to the Editorial Board of The Economic and Labour Relations Review, a respected international journal with growing impact factor (2.89 in 2021 average 2.5), based in the Business School. Diana was made an Honorary Life Member of the Association of Industrial Relations Academics of Australia and New Zealand (AIRAANZ) in 1999 in recognition of her service in the organisation. She has undertaken a number of senior university-wide roles since 2000, and was Chair of Academic Senate 2008-2014 at the University of Wollongong, as well as with the NSW and national bodies of Chairs of Academic Boards and Senates. She has chaired a review of academic governance at a major Australian university and has lectured and been consulted about good academic governance internationally. In 2020, Diana Kelly published an historical biography, The Red Taylorist: The Life and Works of Walter Nicholas Polakov. In 2023 she was appointed Editor-in-Chief of The Economic and Labour Relations Review. She is also currently researching for a forthcoming biography, The Times and Life of Justice Jim Staples.