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.

ARC Data Portal

The ARC Data Portal contains:

  • the ERA 2018 National Report
  • Research Outputs—metadata for the research outputs submitted by universities for ERA 2018
  • Outcomes—the ERA ratings for Fields of Research at each institution for each round of ERA (ERA 2018, ERA 2015, ERA 2012, ERA 2010). 

ERA Background

What are the objectives of ERA?

The objectives of ERA are to:

  • establish an evaluation framework that gives government, industry, business and the wider community assurance of the excellence of research conducted in Australian higher education institutions
  • provide a national stocktake of discipline level areas of research strength and areas where there is opportunity for development in Australian higher education institutions
  • identify excellence across the full spectrum of research performance
  • identify emerging research areas and opportunities for further development
  • allow for comparisons of research in Australia, nationally and internationally, 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 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

Following the ERA 2018 round, the ARC will be working with the Department of Education to develop an approach for the alignment of the ERA and HERDC collections. The general principle of efficiency and cost-effectiveness advocated strongly by the 2013 Review of Higher Education Regulation is likely to be met through integrating ERA and HERDC (the Higher Education Research Data Collection). Expected efficiencies include:

  • IT systems at both the university and government end only need to cater for one data set
  • administrative and academic staff involved in the collection and verification of the data at both the university and government end only need to be trained to work with one set of data specifications
  • workflow arrangements for the collection and verification of data are rationalised where data only needs to be submitted once for a single reference period
  • any auditing requirements in relation to the data will also be streamlined
  • integration will avoid confusion about data parameters and minimise training required for users of the data
  • streamlining data collection and verification processes will reduce opportunities for error and misunderstanding, thereby enhancing the integrity, transparency and utility of the data collected.

Where can ERA presentations be found?

ARC presentations are made available on the website.