Thursday, December 24, 2009

Implications of ERA 2010

The Australian Research Council (ARC) have now released the ERA 2010 Submission Guidelines for the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative. Section 1.5 on page 7 of the Guidelines suggest that there will be a number of implications of the ERA outcomes, these include:
  1. Reputational Exposure - universities may be ranked at the 2-digit and 4-digit field of research.
  2. Funding Implications - the ERA will inform the performance component of the Sustainable Research Excellence (SRE) program.
  3. HDR Student Supervision - the ERA may inform Research Block Grant allocations which could include the Research Training Scheme (RTS) which may have an implication for the funding of HDR students.
See below for an excerpt from the 2010 ERA Submission Guidelines:

"1.5. Use of Information from ERA

The ARC will publicly release outcomes of the evaluations for all disciplines at the four- and two-digit level. This information will be published at an institutional and a national level. The ARC will also make available to individual institutions further information on the evaluations of their own disciplines.

ERA will inform the performance component of the Sustainable Research Excellence in Universities Program. The eligibility of institutions for funding from the Sustainable Research Excellence in Universities Program will be contingent on their participation in ERA.

The Government will determine how the allocation of other Research Block Grants may be linked to ERA results in consultation with the higher education sector." - page 7

A copy of the Guidelines can be downloaded at the ARC's website:

More information on Research Block Grant programs can be found at the DIISR website:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

ERA 2009 PCE Trial Outcomes - National Report

The Australian Research Council (ARC) have made public the results of the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) Physical, Chemical and Earth Sciences (PCE) Trial at the National level. While there is very little detail available publicly it does seem to suggest that Australia's research quality is above the World average in Physical, Chemical and Earth Sciences. On average our best performances appear to be Astronomical and Space Sciences, Macromolecular and Materials Chemistry and Geology. This is very encouraging as these fields of research fit nicely into the Australia Government's National Research Priorities and their associated priority goals.

More information about the ERA Trial and Outcomes can be found here:

More information about Australia's National Research Priorities can be found here:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

ERA Washup & Lessons Learnt - Your ERA Submission

On Thursday 26 November I headed over to Sydney for the Collaborative Research Administrators Group (CRAG) forum titled ERA Washup & Lessons Learnt. The event was held at the Stamford Plaza Airport Hotel which was a lovely venue and made it easy to get over and back again for the day. While it was interesting to hear the stories about the blood, sweat and tears that went into some of the ERA submissions of the universities involved - for me the most informative session was presented by Dr Alex Cook from the Australian Research Council (ARC). Alex outlined some the changes that will occur between the 2009 ERA trial and the 2010 full ERA submission. Of course, following the presentation the poor fellow was flooded with questions for a good 20-30 minutes before he was allowed to return to his seat - I think he was well prepared though and did a great job responding to peoples questions and suggestions.

While there were a whole number of changes to the ERA process I think for me these are the most significant:

  1. There will be a soft submission that can be checked by the ARC for potential errors before the submission is signed off by the Vice Chancellor - this will allow us an opportunity to fix the submission without requiring the VC to certify multiple times.
  2. Field of Research (FoR) codes will be apportioned rather than double and triple counted thus removing "ghost" unit of assessments.
  3. There will be exemplar Background Statements available.
  4. We will be able to see reports similar to the reports supplied to the Research Evaluation Committees (REC) which will give us a much better idea of what our submission looks like in the REC's eyes - this will also help in producing our Background Statements.
The rest of the presentation mainly talked about data quality issues which are always going to be issues that need sorting out. Also research theme codes are going to be added to every output - this seemed to be a big issue for most of the people in the room. I am not sure that this is such a big issue myself.

In all it was a great chance to hear about other research office's experiences with their submissions and a good chance to network.

Details of the forum and copies of the presentations can be found here:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ERA 2010 FAQs

The Australian Research council (ARC) have updated their FAQ webpage with the following frequently asked questions. They are set to release their final guidelines for the ERA initiative in December. These FAQs outline some the differences that there will be between the 2009 Trial and 2010 full ERA submission.

What changes will occur from the 2009 ERA Submission Guidelines?
Changes in the ERA 2010 Submission Guidelines will include:

  1. Clarification of the researcher eligibility requirements. An additional employment category will be provided to accommodate casual staff.
  2. A selection of esteem indicators will be included.
  3. There will be ERA Listed Conferences for selected disciplines. This will include ranked and unranked conferences.
  4. Institutions will be able to apportion FoRs for research outputs, research income, applied measures and esteem. For Journal Articles and Listed Conferences, apportionment of FoRs will only be possible across the codes to which each journal/conference is assigned.
  5. For peer review, institutions will be able to nominate a preferred FoR in which the output should be reviewed.
  6. Research Themes will be mandatory for each research output, although a response of ‘not applicable’ will be allowed.
  7. Additional applied measures will be included: plant breeder’s rights, NHMRC-endorsed guidelines.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Corporate Cup 2009

The UniSA Research and Innovation Services team, the "Research Runners", were awarded this years Corporate Cup for the north region. The Corporate Cup was a 4.5km run around the lake at Mawson Lakes once a fortnight for 14 weeks. We had a team of 7 runners and gained points by improving on each consecutive run for a total of 883 points out 1000.

Information on the Life Be In It - Corporate Cup can be found here:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

UCD Bibliometrics Booklet

University College Dublin has released this interesting and useful guide to bibliometrics.

It gives concise explanations of citations, benchmarks, h-index, journal rankings and eigenfactors.

Monday, November 16, 2009

VC Awards for Staff Excellence

On Friday 6 November the University held its annual VC awards for staff excellence - the awards recognise outstanding contributions by staff across the University. This year our ERA team was awarded the "Working Across Boundaries" award which recognises bringing ideas, people and resources together across administrative and academic units.

Details on this year's recipients can be found here:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

ARC-supported research: the impact of journal publication output 2001-2005

This week the Australian Research Council (ARC) released a report conducted by Bev Biglia and Linda Butler of the Research Evaluation and Policy Project (REPP) on the impact of journal publication output from ARC funded research. The study focuses on the number of citations each paper received relative to the average number of citations a paper received in the World in that same field in the same time period. In other words - are these particular papers cited more often than the average? If the papers in a particular field are cited more often than the World average then you can say that these papers, and this field of research, have had more impact than the average. The number of citations that your paper receives can be determined by checking citation data suppliers such as Thomson-Reuters' Web of Science or Elsevier's Scopus - and these can be benchmarked against the Australian or World average citation rates for the same field through various products offered by the same companies.

It is encouraging to see that publications resulting from ARC funded research are generally above the World citation rates in almost all fields of research. Similar bibliometrics will be used as one of the suite of indicators of quality in the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative that is currently underway in the higher education sector. Universities can measure their research impact through publications against World benchmarks using the exact same methodology as in this report. In fact, individual researchers can also use the same methodology to rate their own research output against World benchmarks provided their research output volume is high enough to make the metrics significant.

The media release and report can be found at the ARC's webpage here:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

National Ride to Work Day

National Ride to Work Day came around again today - it doesn't seem like a whole year since I last "joined the commuter evolution". Our office only managed two riders today which I guess is understandable because the weather was absolutely awful this morning. I got completely drenched on the way into work but luckily had taken a bag of work clothes and a towel into work the day before so I would have warm clothes to change into in the morning.

Ride to work day is a great way to kick off the habit of riding to work more regularly - although this year I might wait for it to warm up a little first. Riding to work is great for a number of reasons: it is a really good way to start the day as it combines a workout with the commute to work; it is also great for the environment with one less car on the road (unless of course you get your wife to pick you up in the car on the way home that night).

You can check out more at the Ride to Work webpage:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

ARMS 2009, Christchurch, NZ

From the 16-18 of September 2009 I attended the Australasian Research Management Society (ARMS) Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand. The conference was titled The Evolution of Research Management which was inspired by the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary his book On the Origin of Species.

There were three themes for the conference which were:

  • Supporting the Researcher: from gatekeepers to champions
  • Evaluating Research: the conditions that unleash excellence
  • Through the Veil: looking to future systems for successful research

Before the conference began there was also a choice of a full day workshop. I chose to attend the workshop – Introduction to Research Management.

The workshop consisted of four modules:

  • an overview of the national research context
  • funding opportunities
  • lifecycle of a research grant
  • ethics and accountability frameworks governing the conduct of research

One take-home point (among many) from the conference was the importance of stakeholders and stakeholder engagement in supporting research and researchers. Research managers and administrators are important as facilitators and translators between the researchers and external stakeholders. They manage expectations and help ensure stakeholders understand the relevance of research. The research manager is a key player in securing and retaining resources for research. Institutions such, as universities, that have excellent research management and develop excellent research managers and administrators have the potential to compete against other institutions that have not developed these qualities and rely only on their reputation.


Christchurch is a beautiful city - it is a sister city to Adelaide in South Australia and is called the Garden City. In a day and a half I managed to squeeze in: a climb to the top of the cathedral spire; a trip on the tourist tram around the city; the museum, the botanic gardens, a gondola ride up Mt Cavendish and some really great meals, including the Dux de Lux and the Tap Room.

The ARMS 2009 website can be found here:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Eigenfactor is a web based tool that ranks research journals. There are a number of journal rankings available, including; Thomson-Reuters' impact factor, the Australian Research Council (ARC) journal ranking list and various other discipline specific ranking lists. Each of these lists attempts to rank journals based on their quality within a field of research - and each list has its own ranking criteria.

Eigenfactor uses citation metrics to rank journals and gives weightings to citations from specific journals based on their quality. It works in much the same way that Google's pagerank algorithm works. Eigenfactor also includes a indicator of the value for money a journal delivers; this is a feature that is quite unique to the Eigenfactor.

To see a short article I wrote on the Eigenfactor for Collection Management click here.

To visit the Eigenfactor website and try it for yourself, click here.

Information on the ARC's journal ranking lists can be found at the ARC's ERA website.