Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Measuring the Value of Australian Research

Greetings from "Measuring the Value of ERA" at the University of Canberra. ERA is "Excellence in Research for Australia" is an attempt to rate the quality of research carried out in Australia. This is important to universities. This is a very complex process, with 60 pages of ERA 2015 Submission Guidelines.

The last ERA process cost somewhere between $8M and $100M to carry out.  What makes this more confusing (and expensive) is that the Australian Government also conducts a Higher Education Research Data Collection. In my view these processes could be simplified by undertaking an on-line search of what the people at each university have done and get their peers to quickly rate it on-line. At present each university has to go though a laborious process of creating a repository of research output, which is mostly published papers. The relevant government agency then needs to versify this information. This process is a waste of time and money and I suggest they could simply identify where their material is published. There would then be no need to verify a document has been published as it would be obtained from the place it is published. The Ranking Web of Universities is an example of a process for ranking universities using on-line information which gives a result comparable (or perhaps superior) to more labor-intensive measures. Also there may nt be much point in carrying out such an analysis at a university level, as researchers do their work in tams, which usually have people from multiple institutions and the university has little to do with this. In my view it would be reasonable to reduce the cost to one tenth the current amount.
Ranking Web of Universities
Excellence in Research for Australia is now into its third round. In 2011, following the release of ERA 2010 outcomes, it was speculated that the cumulative cost of the exercise was at least $100M. This topic was revisited after the 2012 ERA round, with further questions raised about the time and expenses associated with the exercise, both on the part of institutions and the ARC. As part of the 2015 submission, institutions will be required to report to the ARC the time they have spent on the preparation of their submission. What are the costs of an ERA submission, and how are universities dealing with the challenges of preparing their submissions? What does ERA mean for the changing nature of research management? And how are the benefits of evaluating the quality of the research effort across Australian universities to be reconciled with the costs to the research budget?
This symposium will consider these challenges from the point of view of research office management staff, university executive, and research policy specialists, while at the same time pondering the benefits gained from of an exercise that aims to identify and promote research excellence in Australia.
Facilitator: Mark Bazzacco (Executive Manager, Performance and Analysis, CSIRO)
  • Prof Aidan Byrne (CEO, ARC),
  • Prof Tony Peacock (CEO, CRCA),
  • Prof Frances Shannon (DVCR, UC),
  • Prof Margaret Harding (DVCR, ANU),
  • Dr Ksenia Sawczak (Director of Research Services, UC),
  • Dr Douglas Robertson (Director of Research Services, ANU).
Date:  Tuesday, 11 November 2014
Time: 3-5pm

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