Australia stirs on metrics (fwd)

Stevan Harnad harnad at ECS.SOTON.AC.UK
Tue Jun 20 07:38:52 EDT 2006

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2006 17:47:05 +1000
From: Arthur Sale <ahjs at>
Subject: Australia stirs on metrics

The following extract from an email from Bradley Smith, Executive Director
of the Federation of Australian Science & Technology Societies (FASTS), may
be of interest internationally. Note:

*       The first Research Quality Framework (RQF, similar to UK's RAE)
round will be delayed to 2008.
*       It appears that Australia is going to take advantage of delaying the
RQF by taking a shortcut straight to the type of metrics proposed for the
UK's RAE.  The panels' roles may be limited to assessing the "soft impact"
measures, not capable of being incorporated into metrics, and possibly an
integrative role.
*       Boldface is mine to highlight OA-relevant information.
*       Read "impact" to mean things like membership of learned societies,
Nobel Prizes and similar awards, industry development, keynote addresses, TV
presence, and other unquantifiable matters. Citations, publications, funding
etc are subsumed under "quality" and measured by discipline-specific

Arthur Sale


2. Speech by Julie Bishop - RQF - Knowledge Transfer

On Friday morning, Minister Julie Bishop gave a speech at a conference on
knowledge transfer-engagement which I attended. She made a number of
important comments on the RQF and the prospect and scope of a knowledge
transfer/engagement/third stream funding. In addition, she flagged a clear
Government agenda - "greater diversification is, in my mind, the next
important undertaking of the higher education sector".

The Minister has accepted the initial recommendation of the RQF Development
Advisory Group (RQFDAG) that implementation be delayed.

The new timetable is:

*       2006 - RQFDAG establish 4 working groups to examine Metrics; Impact;
Information Technology; and Modelling and provide final advice on the RQF to
the Minister in October.
*       2007 - universities refine the process and finalise details of data
*       2008 - first iteration of the RQF
*       2009 - Changes to funding come into effect.
*       2014 - second iteration of RQF

The Minister also stressed some key points:

*       She is committed to assessing impact;
*       Sees the RQF as a "tool for greater diversity in the higher
education sector, focussing universities' attention on their strengths ...
The Dawkins era is over".
*       Notes "worst perversions" of overseas equivalents.
*       Does not want the RQF to take the best researchers out of teaching;
*       Postgraduate research students "both regarded and considered towards
RQF outcomes"; and
*       RQF should not create disincentives for collaboration between
university researchers and industry.

In my view, there is a distinct possibility that the final RQF model will be
rather different to the original model with quality being assessed by
metrics but retaining some form of panel assessment of impact -  impact is
clearly central to Govt objectives both in terms of verification and
resource allocation.

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