Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)

What is ERA?

ERA is an assessment system that evaluates the quality of the research conducted at Australian universities by discipline. It identifies the research strengths of individual universities and of the sector as a whole. It also highlights disciplines where there are opportunities to develop the research capacities of Australian universities.

The first round of ERA evaluations took place in 2010 and a second round was completed in 2012. The results of the ERA 2015 round were announced in December 2015. ERA is an ongoing program. The next round will take place in 2018.

How does it operate?

All universities submit comprehensive information to the ARC about their research activities, including details relating to staff, publications and other research outputs, awards, grants, income from industry and other research users, income from the commercialisation of research, and other applied measures such as patents.

Committees of internationally-recognised researchers evaluate this material by discipline. Their expert judgments are informed by a range of indicators and quality assessments derived from the data submitted. The indicators used include measures of research application and recognition, as well as more traditional measures of quality, such as citation analysis or peer review.

Over 1000 researchers were involved in the 2015 evaluations, as committee members or peer reviewers. The ARC provides the committees with discipline-specific national and international benchmarks to assist them to determine ratings. Research active disciplines at each university are assessed by the relevant discipline committee and may be awarded a rating on a five-point scale, where three is world standard and five is the highest rating.

How are ERA results used?

ERA outcomes locate specific areas of research strength, identify opportunities to develop research capacity and allow for comparisons of research efforts over time. These features make ERA data an ideal tool for aligning research strengths with university, industry, regional and national priorities to maximise the benefits of public investment in research.

ERA data and outcomes are is used to inform a range of advice to Government across various portfolios and to assist universities with strategic planning. ERA data has also been used to specifically inform the development of research policy in Government and the wider sector, including:

  • Research Engagement for Australia: Measuring Research Engagement between Universities and End Users (Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering)
  • Mapping Australia’s Science and Research Priorities (Department of Industry and Science)
  • Mapping the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences in Australia (Australian Academy of the Humanities)
  • Development of the Defence Trade Controls Act (Department of Defence)
  • Draft National Strategy for International Education (Department of Education and Training).

Further Information:  

Visit the Australian Research Council website, email era[@]arc.gov.au or telephone +61 2 6287 6600.

This information was correct at time of publishing on 27 April 2016.