The Australian Research Council’s national report on Excellence in Research for Australia, 2010, has been released, providing an assessment of the quality of research conducted in Australian universities.


The report, three years in preparation,  was produced as an element of the Government’s agenda for the reform of Australia’s higher education system, outlined in its policy document Transforming Australia’s Higher Education System (2009), and its innovation agenda, expressed in Powering Ideas: An Innovation Agenda for the 21st Century (2009). The assessment was undertaken by eight Research Evaluation Committees, appointed by the Australian Research Council  (ARC) and comprising a total of 149 members.


Data was submitted to the ARC by 40 higher education institutions on 330,000 research outputs from over 55,000 researchers across eight discipline clusters and 157 research fields.

The report found that Australia performed ‘well above world standard’ (i.e. received 5s across four or more institutions at the ‘four-digit’ discipline level) across the following disciplines:


  • Cardiovascular Medicine and Haematology
  • Oncology and Carcinogenesis
  • Immunology
  • Medical Physiology
  • Human Movement and Sports Science
  • Clinical Sciences
  • Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Astronomical and Space Sciences
  • Quantum Physics
  • Optical Physics
  • Plant Biology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Ecology
  • Zoology
  • Geology
  • Historical Studies
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Macromolecular and Materials Chemistry
  • Physical and Structural Chemistry


43 fields of research had an average rating on a national level below or well below world standards.

Discipline areas  (two-digit FoR codes) with an average rating below world standards were: Information and Computing Sciences; Technology (Mathematical, Information and Computing Sciences);  Medical and Health Sciences (Public and Allied Health Sciences); Built Environment and Design (Engineering and Environmental Sciences); Education; Commerce, Management Tourism and Services; Studies in Human Society; Law and Legal Studies; Studies in Creative Arts and Writing; and Language Communications and Culture.

The report also ranked the 40 participating institutions by their performance in discipline areas, and by their overall research performance. In the overall assessment, ten universities performed at or above world standard.

They are, in order of ranking (on a scale of 1 – 5):


Australian National University – 4.38, over 21 discipline areas

University of Melbourne – 4.33, over 24 discipline areas

University of Queensland – 4.17, over 24 discipline areas

University of New South Wales – 4.04, over 23 discipline areas

University of Sydney – 3.83, over 24 discipline areas

University of Western Australia – 3.64, over 22 discipline areas

University of Adelaide – 3.55, over 22 discipline areas

Monash University – 3.45, over 22 discipline areas

Macquarie University – 3.24, over 21 discipline areas

Queensland University of Technology – 3.09, over 22 discipline areas

Griffith University -  3.00, over 22 discipline areas

Melbourne College of Divinity – 3.00, over 1 discipline area.


The report ‘Excellence for Research in Australia (ERA) 2010 National Report’  is available at

A further round of ERA assessment is scheduled for 2012.