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Report confirms Curtin’s world-class research

News story

Recently published Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) results have seen Curtin meet or exceed world standards  across a variety of disciplines.

Curtin’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor of  Research and Development, Professor Linda Kristjanson, is pleased with the  recent results and believes that the University can look forward to continued growth in research quality and outputs.

The following announcement was released by Professor Linda Kristjanson.

ERA results were released on the 31 January 2011.  We were pleased with the excellent performance achieved by a number of Curtin’s discipline groups.  We achieved world class rankings for 45% of our two-digit research discipline areas and 36% of our four-digit research discipline areas. At the four-digit Field of Research level we achieved ratings of four and five (above and well above world standards) for Analytical Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Geochemistry, Geology, Curriculum and Pedagogy, Medical Microbiology, and Cultural studies.  We were also very pleased to note that another 13 discipline groups achieved a rating of 3 at the four-digit level, indicating that their performance was equal to the world standard (Applied Mathematics, Numerical and Computational Mathematics, Condensed Matter Physics, Geophysics, Agriculture & Veterinary Sciences, Chemical Engineering, Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Human Movement & Sports Science, Nursing, Urban & Regional Planning, Tourism; Film, Television & Digital Media; Performing Arts & Creative Writing; and Historical Studies).

It is important to remember that the ERA trial exercise was based upon 2003-2008 data.  We anticipate improved results in the next round of ERA, based upon the recent research recruitments and improvements in quality of research publications in 2009.   The recent HERDC data shows strong growth by Curtin in the number of research publications in top quality journals (A/A*) including Nature and Science, with 49.6% of journal articles for 2009 in this group, up from 36.6% in 2008. This increase in quality also occurred at a time of continuing growth in Curtin’s research publications, with a 13.5% growth (1,617 research publications) for 2009 and a national ranking of 10th up from 11th in 2008 and 17th in 2007 and 20th in 2003.

There has been concern that the data related to ERA performance recently reported in some media presents distorted and in some instances inaccurate information. The report relied upon constructed rankings of universities based upon mean ERA scores for an arbitrarily chosen set of up to the top 25 discipline groups in which universities were assessed.  Had the top 20 discipline groups been used as the basis of the averaging, Curtin would have been listed above or equal to the world standard, with our average score being 3.4.

It is also important to understand that there is a strong correlation (0.70) between age of university and ERA performance as measured by four-digit Fields of Research Codes.   With this in mind, it is pleasing to recognise that Curtin achieved world standard or higher (3,4,5) rankings in 20 discipline groups. As a young and large university, we are on the right trajectory to become a world class research intensive university over the next twenty years.

Our commitment to excellence is the first principle guiding our research efforts. We are also committed to undertaking research that is relevant to industry and the wider community.  To this end, we look forward to engaging in ongoing discussions in the sector and with government to ensure that future assessments recognise engagement and innovation.

We value the information obtained from this first trial first benchmarking exercise and are confident that we are on a strong upward trajectory.

Curtin’s Discipline Groups Above or Well Above World Standards (ERA Ratings 4 & 5)

• Analytical Chemistry (5)
• Geology (5)
• Physical Chemistry (4)
• Geochemistry (4)
• Medical Microbiology (4)
• Curriculum & Pedagogy (4)
• Cultural Studies (4)

Curtin’s World Standard Disciplines (ERA Rating 3)

• Applied Mathematics
• Numerical and Computational Mathematics
• Condensed Matter Physics
• Geophysics
• Agriculture & Veterinary Sciences (2 digit)
• Chemical Engineering
• Electrical & Electronic Engineering
• Human Movement & Sports Science
• Nursing
• Urban & Regional Planning
• Tourism
• Film, Television & Digital
• Media
• Performing Arts and Creative Writing
• Historical Studies

Download Professor Kristjanson’s response to Curtin University’s ERA results.