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ERA Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)?

Excellence in Research for Australia is an assessment system that evaluates the quality of the research conducted at Australian universities. 

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What is the purpose of ERA?

ERA provides taxpayers with assurance that the public money spent on research is being invested wisely. 
Furthermore, ERA provides business and the broader community with detailed information about the research strengths of our universities, so that those strengths can be exploited to the nation's advantage. 

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What are some of the benefits of ERA?

ERA provides reliable and credible data about the quality of research in the higher education sector that:

  • allows research managers and investors to identify and reward excellence in research and opportunities for further development or investment and assures Australian taxpayers that their investment in research is well spent
  • facilitates strategic planning to further strengthen our research capabilities
  • helps promote Australia's research strengths on the world stage.

ERA data and outcomes are used by the universities, as well as by Government and other stakeholders. ERA results are used in the internal reporting and planning documents (such as the annual reports and strategic plans) of many universities.  By taking part in ERA, the quality of research data held by universities is also reported to be much improved. In addition, universities regularly use ERA outcomes to promote their research strengths, both to Australian and international stakeholders.

The ARC commissioned ACIL Allen Consulting in 2013 to undertake a Benefits Realisation Review (BRR) of ERA. The objective of the project was to explore the monetary and non-monetary benefits of ERA. The BRR Report can be accessed here.

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Where can I find information about previous ERA evaluations?

Previous ERA evaluations were conducted in 2010 and 2012. Please visit the ERA Outcomes page to access the ERA 2010 and ERA 2010 National Reports. The National Reports provide a comprehensive overview of the quality of research undertaken in higher education institutions across Australia.

The ERA 2012 webpage provides specific information about the ERA 2012 process.

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What do the ERA outcomes tell us?

ERA measures performance within each discipline at each university and gives us a detailed view of the research landscape in Australia, from quantum physics to literature. It highlights national research strengths in areas of critical economic and social importance—such as Geology, Environmental Science and Management, Nursing, Clinical Sciences, Materials Engineering, Psychology, Law and Historical Studies and many others. In addition, ERA results highlight the research strengths of individual universities. 

The ERA data presented in the National Report also provides contextual information about research application, knowledge exchange and collaboration.

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When will the next round of ERA be?

The next round of ERA will take place in 2015. Detailed information about the ERA 2015 evaluation can be found in the ERA 2015 Submission Documentation.

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Will any refinements be made to the process prior to the next ERA round?

The ERA methodology is a dynamic and flexible research assessment system that combines the objectivity of multiple quantitative indicators with the holistic assessment provided by expert review. The ARC will continue to enhance the ERA methodology to ensure that it remains at the cutting edge of evaluation practice. This may include expanding the ERA framework for future evaluations to allow for additional measures of research application, knowledge exchange and collaboration. The ARC consults with the university sector on any significant changes to the ERA approach.

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Does ERA use impact assessment?

Impact is not used as a measure of research quality in ERA.

The indicators used in ERA include a range of metrics such as citation profiles which are common to disciplines in the natural sciences, and peer review of a sample of research outputs which is more broadly common in the humanities and social sciences.  The precise set of indicators used has been developed in close consultation with the research community. The ARC continually consults with the higher education sector and monitors international developments to ensure the ERA methodology remains up to date.

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Can the ERA results be used to form a league table ranking Australia's universities in terms of overall research quality?

ERA is a discipline-specific research evaluation exercise. ERA ratings allow for a finely grained picture of research quality performance in Australia's higher education institutions.

The ERA unit of evaluation is the discipline at the institution. It is not the discipline at the national level, nor is it the State, the university, nor the individual academic. ERA does not rate each university as a whole. Rather, it rates specific research disciplines at each university against national and international benchmarks.

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How do ERA results inform Government policy?

ERA data is an ideal tool to guide strategic planning and investment, including aligning research strengths with industry, regional and national priorities to maximise the benefits of public investment in research.

ERA outcomes inform the performance-based block funding that universities receive from Government to sustain excellence in research. This funding provides all our universities with a direct financial incentive to encourage and support world class research. ERA outcomes directly inform university funding under the Sustainable Research Excellence scheme.

ERA outcomes and targets also inform the negotiation of Mission-Based Compacts between the Australian Government and universities.

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Why is the Ranked Journal list no longer used?

In 2009, the ARC developed a ranked journal list in consultation with members of the public, expert reviewers and academic peak bodies. This list included quality ranks for each journal. Ranked journal publishing profiles were used as part of the suite of indicators in the ERA 2010 evaluation. Following feedback from Research Evaluation Committees that they relied on their own expert knowledge of the quality of research outlets relevant to their discipline, ranked journal profiles were removed as an indicator for the ERA 2012 evaluation.

The ranked journal list is no longer available from the ARC website. This is because it was intended solely for the purposes of the ERA 2010 evaluation, and because journals may have changed significantly in the number of years since the rankings were developed.

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Content Last Modified: 03/07/14

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