CEO’s Foreword

CEO foreword: Portrait photo of Professor Aidan Byrne, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Research Council

This is the inaugural State of Australian University Research 2015-16. In the past, the ARC has released the ERA results through an ERA National Report and Volume 1 of this State of Australian University Research 2015-16 continues that tradition. It comprehensively details the quality of Australian university research benchmarked against world standards.

With three rounds of ERA now complete, this unique dataset covers all Australian university research outputs, staffing and activity from 2003 to 2013, and research income and research application data from 2006 to 2013.

Over the coming year the ARC will produce additional volumes based on analyses of this longitudinal data, which will provide further insights into the state of Australian university research. Volume 2 will be released in April 2016.

ERA is the primary mechanism to assure Government of its research investment in Australian universities. ERA 2015 results clearly demonstrate that Australian universities are diverse and that much of their research meets world standard or better.

This report identifies the excellence in research across a broad range of universities and the outstanding performances in areas of specialisation. Overall the quality of Australian university research continues to improve.

The data also shows solid growth of the sector from the previous ERA round. For ERA 2015 data for over 430,000 unique research outputs and 67,000 researchers was collected from the 41 participating universities. There were 2,460 units of evaluation assessed, including 1,802 four-digit and 658 two-digit disciplines.

ERA would not be possible without the support the ARC receives from the sector. In addition to sector-wide consultations to help refine the ERA 2015 process and the work of all universities during the submission stages, there were 155 Research Evaluation Committee members and about 1,300 peer reviewers from Australia and overseas appointed to conduct the evaluations.

This strong sector engagement maintains the confidence that ERA is the most rigorous and effective measure of research quality in Australia’s universities. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved at various stages of the ERA process and in particular the ARC ERA staff.

I strongly encourage universities, industry and other research users to make use of the valuable information that ERA provides.

Professor Aidan Byrne
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Research Council