17 November 2015



This evening Fairfax Media published an article titled Universities questioned over alleged 'gaming' of research rankings.

This article regarding the Australian Research Council (ARC) Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) reports that:

Several universities are being threatened with tough penalties for allegedly providing data that would artificially boost their performance on prestigious research rankings used to allocate government funding.

Farifax did approach the ARC to seek confirmation of information a journalist had received about alleged data manipulation. At the time the ARC advised Fairfax that as the ERA 2015 process was ongoing and details for the national report not yet finalised, it would be inappropriate to comment.

Having now read the article that has been published I wish to advise that it is not correct that either of the universities named “coded” journal articles “multiple times” to “inflate a university's results”.

It is not fair that two particular universities have been named. I am concerned that assumptions may be made about these two universities that are not factual.

The ARC maintains it would be inappropriate to comment when a process is ongoing and still to be finalised, i.e. via release of the national report. However, I would like to advise—in an effort to cease speculation—that there can be many and varied reasons why data is queried and it should never be assumed this is about gaming or misconduct by a university.

Where our Research Evaluation Committees (RECs), our independent committees made up of discipline experts nominated by Australian universities, have queried data the ARC has communicated with that university.

Almost 2500 Units of Evaluation (UoEs) were assessed as part of ERA 2015, hence there is an enormous amount of data to assess. The queries raised by our expert RECs account for well under 2% of the UoEs submitted for assessment in ERA 2015.                                                                                                                                            

The ARC is still on track to release the national report for ERA 2015 in December, however the ARC will not be making comments about results or current processes prior to the process being complete.

What I will say is that ERA is based on clear and robust processes with the rules of submission clearly stated when released in July 2014.

Decisions on rating the disciplines for each university is made by our independent committees of experts and I have every faith in the integrity of the committees and fully support the processes used for ERA 2015, and indeed the decisions made by these committees of experts.

Once the process has been finalised, the ARC will publish all results in the ERA National Report.


Media contact
ARC Stakeholder Relations
0412 623 056 or communications@arc.gov.au