A new era for research education in Australia?

Marsh, Helene, Smith, Bradley, King, Max, and Evans, Terry (2012) A new era for research education in Australia? Australian Universities' Review, 54 (1). pp. 83-93.

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Use of the Australian research assessment exercise, Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) to influence the policy and practice of research education in Australia will undoubtedly have many consequences, some of them unintended and potentially deleterious. ERA is a retrospective measure of research quality; research education is prospective. There is a lack of alignment between the 2- and especially the 4- digit Fields of Research used for ERA and university organisational units. While numerous Fields of Research were rated as world class in multiple institutions in the capital cities of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, the other states and regional Australia have significant gaps. The Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Medical (STEM) fields were generally rated higher than the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) disciplines. Thus using ERA results to allocate higher degree by research places will have highly variable consequences in different disciplines and locations, given the obstacles to the mobility of the largely mature-aged doctoral cohort and the forecast impending academic skills shortage. ERA provides an incentive for Australian academics to eschew publishing in low impact journals and is likely to disadvantage some research students for whom co-authorship in a lower impact journal is more advantageous than no publication. There are many ways in which ERA results could be used to improve the quality of research education in Australia. Nonetheless, simplistically limiting doctoral education to Fields of Research where an institution scored at or better than national or world averages in ERA is unlikely to be in the national interest because our future research and academic workforce needs to be well prepared to operate across the nation in areas of emerging research, including cross-disciplinary and applied research.

Item ID: 24962
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0818-8068
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Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2013 06:18
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930501 Education and Training Systems Policies and Development @ 100%
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