Saturday, October 30, 2010

ERA 2012

The Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, the Hon Senator Kim Carr, announced on 25 October 2010 that another round of ERA is scheduled for 2012. As information becomes available, ERA Liaison Officers will be notified and the ARC website updated.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

ERA 2010 Journal Ranking List

The Australian Research Council (ARC) have now released their ERA 2010 Ranked Journal list (and ranked conference list too - although this one seemed to appear with much less fanfare than the journal list). The Ranked Journal List contains tens of thousands of peer reviewed journal titles covering all manner of fields of research. The list will be used for the upcoming Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative. The list provides information about the journal titles including the Field of Research (FOR) code that it covers, whether it is indexed by citation and abstracts database Scopus and most "importantly" a quality ratings of A*-C. The quality rating is roughly A* = top 5% of articles by quality; A = next 15%; B = next 30% and C = bottom 50%. While the list makes the practical task of submitting a higher education provider's research output data to the ARC easier, all nicely bundled into FOR codes and with histograms of quality within those FORs, it is definitely not perfect. The main problem is that while the FOR codes and rank might conveniently describe the journal - they do not always accurately describe the individual articles within the journal. This causes problems when the article within a journal inherits the FOR code classifications and ranking of the journal it is published in.

There has been some mention of the idea that with this rating scale "C" ranked journals may disappear as everyone will publish in the A and A* rated journals. My problem with this idea is that it assumes that all those people who currently publish in C rated journals could have those same articles published in A and A* rated journals - this is unlikely. Also, what if none of their colleagues read the A* and A journals - why would they want to publish their work somewhere that no one will see it? I believe that the increasing interest in "open access" journals will have a much bigger impact on publication behavior and research in general than the ranked list will. I doubt that the academic community will be pushed into publishing only in exclusive and expensive A* and A rated journals that no one can afford or want to read - this would defeat the whole point of them doing research and I just can't imagine this list having such a dramatic impact on them.