The ARC is responsible for administering Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA), Australia’s national research evaluation framework. ERA identifies and promotes excellence across the full spectrum of research activity in Australia’s higher education institutions. 

Through ERA the ARC is tasked with identifying excellence in research, by comparing Australia's university research effort against international benchmarks, creating incentives to improve the quality of research and identifying emerging research areas and opportunities for further development.

The first full round of ERA occurred in 2010 and the results were published in early 2011. This was the first time a nationwide stocktake of discipline strengths and areas for development had ever been conducted in Australia. There have been three subsequent rounds of ERA in 2012, 2015 and 2018. The reports from each ERA round are available online in ERA Reports.

The ERA ratings for fields of research at each institution are available via the ARC Data Portal

To ensure the national research assessments address Australia’s future needs, the ARC conducted a comprehensive review of ERA (and its companion exercise the Engagement and Impact Assessment) in 2020–21 – ERA EI Review Final Report 2020–2021 – PDF format – Word format.

ARC Data Portal

The ARC Data Portal contains:

ERA Background

What are the objectives of ERA?

The objectives of ERA are:

  • Promoting Excellence: Rigorously assess research quality to promote pursuit of excellence across all fields and all types of research.
  • Informing Decisions: Provide a rich and robust source of information on university research excellence and activity to inform and support the needs of university, industry, government and community stakeholders.
  • Demonstrating Quality: Provide government and the public with evidence of the quality of research produced by Australia’s universities.
  • Enabling Comparisons: Allow for comparisons between Australian universities and against world standard for all discipline areas.

How are the disciplines defined?

For the purposes of ERA, disciplines are defined as two-digit and four-digit Fields of Research (FoRs) codes as identified in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification. For further information about ANZSRC contact the ABS National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or their website Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification.

What do the ERA outcomes tell us?

ERA evaluates 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 across all disciplines. In addition, ERA results highlight the research strengths of individual universities. The ERA data presented in each National Report also provides contextual information about research application, knowledge exchange and collaboration.

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 identify 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. 

How is ERA data used?

The ERA data – from the current and previous rounds – provides Government, universities, industry and prospective students with valuable information about research performance in Australian higher education institutions. For example, ERA data:

  • informs a range of policy advice and initiatives across various portfolios of Government
  • assists institutions with their strategic planning, decision making and their research promotional activities in Australia and internationally
  • provides students, industry and other stakeholders rigorous and fine-grained, disciplined based information about research performance that is not readily available through other means.

ERA and HERDC Alignment

The ARC will undertake work on measures to streamline the submission process for universities, including use of existing data sets and new technological approaches.

This will include aligning ERA data requirements with Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) higher education data collections such as Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) and Higher Education Staff Data Collection (HESDC).

Where can ERA presentations be found?

ARC presentations are made available on the website.