Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)

What is it?

Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) is national assessment exercise managed by the Australian Research Council (ARC), which aims to identify and promote excellence across the full spectrum of research activity occurring within Australia's higher education institutions. The objectives of the exercise are to:

  • establish an evaluation framework that gives government, industry, business and the wider community assurance of the excellence of research conducted in Australian higher education institutions
  • provide a national stocktake of discipline level areas of research strength and areas where there is opportunity for development in Australian higher education institutions
  • identify excellence across the full spectrum of research performance
  • identify emerging research areas and opportunities for further development
  • allow for comparisons of research in Australia, nationally and internationally, for all discipline areas.

The unit of assessment is broadly defined as the Field of Research (FoR) within an institution based on the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification (ANZSRC). The data covers all eligible researchers and their research outputs.

The assessment is undertaken using a combination of indicators and expert review by Research Evaluation Committees (REC) comprising experts from Australia and overseas. The ERA indicators include a range of metrics such as citation profiles which are common to disciplines in the natural sciences, and peer review of a sample of research outputs which is more broadly common in the humanities and social sciences. Evaluations by REC are informed by three broad categories of indicators:

  1. Research quality. This includes elements such as publishing behaviour (where works are published), citation analysis or ERA peer review (how influential are our outputs) and peer reviewed research income allocations (what is the value of nationally competitive grant income, especially from Category 1 sources [Australian competitive grants]);
  2. Research activity. This includes measures of how much activity has been undertaken, using volume measures such as research outputs and income, relative to the profile of eligible researchers;
  3. Research application. For the previous ERA assessment in 2015, 'Applied Measures' captured how research was applied or translated, such as through registered designs, patents, plant breeders rights, and commercialisation income. The specifications for ERA 2018 are due for release in October 2017, where the content of Applied Measures for ERA 2018 will be detailed.

When is it?

ERA 2018 will be submitted in early 2018, however there is a significant amount of preparation required to develop this institutional submission. The submission uses retrospective data, which is accessed from CSU's various systems and repositories. Data collection has already commenced to ensure all those records are accurate and complete. The submission includes research information that describes activities by 'eligible researchers' across the following reference periods: 

Data Type

Reference Period

Years

Research Outputs

1 January 2011 – 31 December 2016

6

Research Income

1 January 2014 – 31 December 2016

3

Applied Measures

1 January 2014 – 31 December 2016

3

 

Who are 'eligible researchers'?

There are detailed criteria for which researchers are reported in the submission and which of their research indicators can be included. The submission can only include staff reported in our HR system at the census date. The census data for ERA 2018 is 31 March 2017. It is likely that 'eligible researchers' for ERA 2018 will be similar to that for ERA 2015. In this regard, for ERA 2015, academic staff with a teaching-research or research only work function and employed at 0.4 FTE or higher are automatically 'eligible' and must be included; staff with other work functions and/or lower FTE load become 'eligible researchers' by having eligible research outputs. Casuals and non-salaried staff such as adjuncts and visiting fellows may also be eligible for inclusion where they have demonstrated affiliation with CSU on their research outputs (such as through a by line). The full criteria will be on the ARC website when the final specifications are released.

How is the submission prepared?

The CSU submission for ERA 2018 will be prepared over many months with input from multiple sources. Information will be sourced from relevant institutional systems, with an initial preparation stage to ensure the completeness and accuracy of information. As part of this process, researchers may be contacted by the ERA 2018 team to ensure that data is included in its entirety.

The governance structure for ERA 2018 will be released in the near future.

What can I do to prepare for ERA 2018?

The ERA process hinges on accurate Field of Research (FoR) data. In this regard, researchers should ensure that FoR codes and apportionments (%) are present and accurate in CSU Research Output (CRO) researcher profiles, and also in all publications in CRO during the ERA 2018 reference period (2011-2016 inclusive). Instructions for how to edit and update FoR codes in the CRO portal can be found at: https://www.csu.edu.au/research/performance/cro/submit

Where can I see our previous ERA submissions?

Representations of CSU's previous ERA submissions are available via the Office of Strategic Planning and Information website (internal only). This site includes excellent dashboard views and comparisons to the national data set. Please note that you will need to download the free Tableau reader to view. 

The Australian Research Council (ARC) has also provided detailed reports on previous ERA assessments.