Thursday, March 7, 2019

ANZSRC Review, or what are our new FOR codes?

The ARC, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Statistics New Zealand (Stats NZ), and the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) are undertaking a joint review of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC). What is the ANZSRC I hear you say - well it is the field of research codes, or FOR codes. It is also the socio-economic objectives (SEO) and type of activity (pure research, strategic research applied research etc).

It is a good time to refresh the categorization to bring it into line with current and future research activity. It is particularity pleasing to see the inclusion of a specific question around how Aboriginal research is categorized (currently it is all hidden at the '6-digit' FOR level).

The other interesting question is around interdisciplinary research and how the classification could be set up to support this better. If research is multidisciplinary then it is probably a simple matter of tagging it with more than one FOR code. If it is truly inter- or trans-disciplinary activity and of some scale then perhaps it should just have its own FOR code (maybe under a division of 'Interdisciplinary').

I sometimes think of research disciplines as fruits - a field of research might be like an apple, and another is a pear and another is a banana. When research is multidisciplinary it is like we have chopped up the fruit and tossed it together in a bowl to make a fruit salad - works well together but still separate fruits. Interdisciplinary research might be more like a fruit smoothy - we've taken all of the fruits we need but blended them together and have created something new and different. So, ANSZRC helps us classify the fruits and the fruit salad - but how will it classify the smoothy?

You can have a look at the review document yourself at the ARC website: