Innovation Minister, Senator Carr has announced intended improvements to the next round of the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative in a statement to an Estimates Hearing of the Senate Economics Committee.


The Australian Research Council (ARC) will use a refined journal quality indicator for ERA 2012. Evaluation committees will assess the appropriateness of the journals used as publication outlets for research, taking into account any regional or applied focus of the disciplinary unit concerned.


For this purpose, evaluation committees will be presented with a profile of the journals (or other relevant publications) used most frequently by the unit under evaluation.


“The change empowers committee members to use their expert judgement to take account of nuances in publishing behaviour,” said ARC CEO, Professor Margaret Sheil. “This approach will allow experts to make judgements about the quality of journals in the context of each discipline.”


“It is clear from the ERA 2010 evaluation and subsequent feedback that journal quality is an important indicator of research quality,” Professor Sheil said. “This change enables journal quality to remain an indicator for ERA 2012, while ensuring that assessments of journal quality do not assume an importance beyond their role as an ERA indicator.”


As a consequence of this change, journals will no longer be assigned a prescriptive rank. However, the ARC will continue to maintain a list of eligible journals and their relevant classification codes to support benchmark metrics.


ERA 2012 will aim to better capture multidisciplinary research. Articles with significant content from a discipline will be able to be assigned to that discipline regardless of where the article is published. For example, an article on ethics in a medical journal could be assigned to ethics, even if the journal was coded to a medical discipline.


“It is important that the ERA model is not overly prescriptive, and allows flexibility for universities to assign publications to the most appropriate FoR code for evaluation,” said Professor Sheil.


The ARC will release the draft submission guidelines for ERA 2012 to provide opportunity to comment on the proposed changes.


More information is at