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 that aims to identify and promote excellence across the full spectrum of research activity occurring within Australian Universities.  The objectives of the exercise can be paraphrased as:

  • Providing an evaluation framework that gives assurance to government, industry, business and the wider community of the excellence of research being conducted in Australian higher education institutions;
  • Enabling a ‘stock take’ of research activity, identifying strengths and emerging areas, as well as opportunities for further development
  • Supporting benchmarking and comparisons nationally and internationally, for all discipline areas.  

The assessment is undertaken using a combination of indicators and expert review by Research Evaluation Committees (REC) comprising experienced, internationally-recognised experts.  Evaluations by REC are informed by four broad categories of indicators:

  1. Indicators of research quality.  This includes elements such as publishing behaviour (where are our works 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);
  2. Indicators of 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. Indicators of research application.  This captures aspects of how our research has been applied or translated, such as through registered designs, patents, plant breeders rights, commercialisation income;
  4. Indicators of recognition.  This considers a range of high esteem indicators, such as membership of learned academies, membership of AIATSIS, Australia Council grants and fellowships, recipients of nationally competitive fellowships.

The ERA scheme is managed by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and detailed information about the initiative can be accessed via the ARC website.

When is it?

ERA2015 will be submitted early in 2015, 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.  A process will be undertaken in the second half of 2014 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: 

3 3 3
Data Type Reference Period Years
Research Outputs
1 January 2008 – 31 December 2013 6
Research Income
1 January 2011 – 31 December 2013
Applied Measures (for 'Application') 1 January 2011 – 31 December 2013
Esteem Measures (for 'Recognition') 1 January 2011 – 31 December 2013

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 of 31 March 2014.

As a general summary, 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 can be reviewed at the ARC website.

How is the submission prepared?

Our institutional submission for ERA2015 will be prepared over many months with input from many sources. Information will be sourced from relevant institutional systems, with an initial submission preparation stage to ensure the completeness and accuracy of that information.   

An Academic Delivery Team that includes nominees from each Executive Dean and the Research Centre Directors, is tasked with assuring the completeness, quality and integrity of the submission content. The Academic Teams members will also play an important role in seeking and coordinating academic input from across the organisation, to assist with optimisation of the submission, in line with the ARC’s rigorous submission guidelines.

A multi-divisional Technical Delivery Team (with representation from Research Office, Library Services, Human Resources, Planning and Audit and Information Technology), is tasked with ensuring the submission meets all of the extensive technical submission requirements.

These two teams will be overseen and directed by a high level ERA Steering Group, chaired by the DVC (Research, Development & Industry). 

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 (SPI) 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 the previous ERA assessment outcomes.