Frequently Asked Questions
- ERA 2012 submission (Last updated 14 February 2012)
- ERA 2012 publication tagging (Last updated 26 October 2011)
- ERA 2012 refinements (Last updated 7 February 2012)
For peer-review disciplines, how do I calculate the 30% of all research outputs that I must nominate for ERA peer review? Is it different to how this was calculated for ERA 2010?
For ERA 2012, you calculate the required number of ERA peer review items for each unit of evaluation (UoE) by:
- taking the sum of apportioned outputs in the UoE;
- multiplying this number by 0.3 (that is, 30%); and
- rounding this figure up to a whole number.
This will give the number of unique research outputs that must be nominated in that UoE for ERA peer review, regardless of the combined apportionment of each individual research output.
You have 100 journal articles in a UoE.
75 of the articles are apportioned 1.0 and and 25 are apportioned 0.5:
- This equates to a total of 87.5 apportioned outputs.
- Multiply 87.5 by 0.3 (that is, the 30% peer review figure). This gives you 26.25.
- Round this figure up to a whole number, and you get 27.
Therefore, you must nominate 27 individual research outputs in that UoE for ERA peer review, regardless of the combined apportionment of those articles.
This calculation differs to that of ERA 2010, where institutions were required to nominate research outputs with a combined apportionment of 20% (and a variance of five apportioned outputs).
Further information on the nomination of 30% of research outputs for ERA peer review can be found in the ERA-SEER 2012 Business Rules and Verification document.
Are fractional full-time staff with an effective appointment of less than 0.4 FTE eligible, and if so, which of their outputs are eligible research outputs?
For those researchers with an FTE of less than 0.4, the institution must be able to prove an association between the researcher and the institution, either through a by-line on one or more of their outputs or through other evidence of an enduring employment relationship such as a contract (see section 18.104.22.168 of the ERA 2012 Submission Guidelines). Institutions are not required to include such evidence in their ERA submission.
However, as all data within the ERA submission of an institution is certified as true by the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, each institution is ultimately responsible for determining the most appropriate ways of gathering and verifying all the ERA data included in its submission, including data regarding the employment status of eligible researchers. Institutions should note that they may be required, on request by the ARC, to justify the inclusion of research items that appear anomalous. This is to ensure that the data submitted by all institutions is of the highest quality, prior to these data being considered by the ERA Research Evaluation Committees.
Where an institution is able to prove an association between a researcher with an FTE of less than 0.4 and the institution, ALL of that employee’s eligible research outputs must be submitted (including those without by-lines).
Can staff on unpaid leave ever be included in an ERA submission?
The researcher eligibility criteria for ERA 2012 are derived from the Higher Education Staff Data Collection (HESDC). In accordance with the HESDC definitions, a member of staff must have current duties at the staff census date. The HESDC definitions state that ‘members of staff who are on unpaid leave at the specific date are deemed not to have an effective substantive appointment.’ For ERA 2012 submissions, the relevant date is 31 March 2011. Thus, members of staff who are on unpaid leave from an institution on 31 March 2011 are unlikely to meet the eligibility criteria required for inclusion in that institution's submission for ERA 2012.
Section 22.214.171.124 of the ERA 2012 Submission Guidelines specifies one exception to this general rule. Namely, that when a researcher is on unpaid leave from an Australian higher education institution as at 31 March 2011, and that researcher is engaged by an overseas institution and has produced otherwise eligible research outputs during the ERA research outputs reference period, with the Australian institution listed in the by-line of the output, the researcher is eligible. In this case, only those research outputs naming the Australian institution in the by-line are eligible for submission, the status of the researcher must be recorded as ‘Other Status’ in the submission data and an FTE is not required.
Please note that if staff who are on leave without pay are engaged at another Australian institution at the census date, and meet the ERA researcher eligibility criteria, that other institution may be able to claim their research outputs.
Explanatory statements and research statements
For ERA 2012, Research Statements have to be 2,000 characters and Explanatory Statements have to be 10,000 characters. Do these character counts include spaces?
The requirements for Research Statements are different to those for Explanatory Statements.
Research Statements are submitted as plain text as part of an institution’s ERA 2012 XML. The 2,000 character limit includes spaces.
Explanatory Statements are submitted directly into the ERA IT system (SEER) and can be edited and managed separately to the institution’s XML. The 10,000 character limit does not include spaces.
Please note, section 5.2 of the ERA 2012 Submission Guidelines states incorrectly that the 10,000 character limit includes spaces.
When should research presented at a conference be submitted as a journal article?
Some journals in the ERA 2012 Journal List may be associated with conferences or occasionally publish conference proceedings. If research originally presented at a conference is first published in a journal included in the ERA 2012 Journal List, and it meets the eligibility criteria for journal articles outlined in sections 5.4.1 and 126.96.36.199 of the ERA 2012 Submission Guidelines, then it would be considered to be a journal article rather than a conference publication for ERA purposes and must be submitted as a journal article.
Some of my institution’s tagged articles were returned from Scopus with a Scopus publication type other than ‘Article (AR)’. We believe they meet the ERA eligibility criteria for journal articles. Will these articles trigger warnings in the ERA IT system (SEER) if they are included in our submission?
Some Scopus publication types will trigger warnings in the ERA IT system (SEER) if submitted as journal articles and others will not. A research output that Scopus has defined as an Article (AR), Conference Paper (CP) or Review (RE) will not trigger a warning if it is submitted as a journal article. This is because, in some cases, an article that Scopus defines as a Conference Paper or a Review may meet the ERA definition of a journal article (see sections 5.4.1 and 188.8.131.52 of the ERA 2012 Submission Guidelines).
Other Scopus publication types include Short Survey (SH), Report (R), Editorial (ED), Note (NO) or Letter (LE).
How does the repository testing process work in ERA 2012?
For ERA 2012, repository testing has been integrated into the ERA 2012 submission process. In Stage 1 of submission, institutions will be required to provide authentication details for each repository domain referenced in its submission. They will also be required to successfully test at least one research output in each of these repositories prior to progressing to Stage 2. During Stage 2, institutions will be able to test each individual research output.
As for ERA 2010, institutions may choose to provide CAUL Australian Institutional Repository Support Service (CAIRSS) with access via the ERA IT system to their ERA 2012 repositories (and the research outputs within these repositories) for guidance with any potential troubleshooting.
I want to reassign a journal article to an FoR not listed for the journal on the ERA 2012 Journal List. The new FoR is 90% of the content of the journal, with 10% represented by the FoRs on the list. Though I have met the requirements for the reassignment rule, do I still have to adhere to the apportionment rule (section 184.108.40.206) with each output being apportioned between 20% and 100%?
Yes. Each FoR assigned to a journal article has a minimum apportionment of 20% and a maximum of 100%. In the case of reassignment, you have to comply with two additional rules: the reapportionment has to be equal to or greater than 66%; and any ‘residual’ apportionment must come from an FoR that is pre-assigned to the journal in the ERA 2012 Journal List. In the example you provide, this means that you either reassign the journal article completely to the new FoR (100% apportionment) or your reassign the journal article to the new FoR to the apportioned value of between 66% and 80%.
I have a question about the new non-traditional outputs that may be included in our submission. How can I decide whether a research output (such as a law reform commission report) fits into the ‘Other’ category, alongside public policy reports, scholarly editions and scholarly translations?
The new examples set out in the subcategories of original creative works (i.e. scholarly editions, scholarly translations and public policy reports) are not exhaustive and are intended as a guide to research staff in determining eligible research outputs. Therefore, a law reform commission report could be included in this category if your institution deemed that the research output met all the overarching criteria for eligibility in ERA 2012 (as identified in section 5.4.1 of the ERA 2012 Submission Guidelines), including the definition of research (section 3.1).
How do I know if my conference publication should be submitted for ERA 2012?
The criteria for submitting any research output to ERA are set out in the ERA 2012 Submission Guidelines at section 5.4.1
All outputs submitted must meet the definition of research, which is ‘the creation of new knowledge and/or the use of existing knowledge in a new and creative way so as to generate new concepts, methodologies and understandings. This could include synthesis and analysis of previous research to the extent that it is new and creative.’
Information specifically related to conference publications is in section 220.127.116.11. A conference publication must be a full refereed paper; not, for example, an abstract. The key issues to consider when deciding whether a paper should be submitted relate to the evidence:
- that the conference paper meets the ERA definition of research (section 3.1);
- that the conference paper has been made publicly available (this might be demonstrated, for example, by the publication having an ISSN or ISBN);
- that the peer review process meets the standard specified in section 18.104.22.168;
- that the conference paper has been published in full (i.e. not an abstract); and
- that the conference paper has not been submitted to ERA 2012 in any other citable form (e.g. a journal article).
Can Cooperative Research Centre income (Category 4) include income from 1 July 2007 and 31 December 2007 that was reported in the 2008 HERDC submission?
No. As per section 5.5.1 of the ERA 2012 Submission Guidelines, for an institution to include research income in its ERA 2012 submission, it must have been reported as part of HERDC for the relevant year of the research income reference period (1 January 2008 to 31 December 2010), however, to be eligible for inclusion the income must have been received in the ERA 2012 reference period. If you received the income in 2007 it is not eligible for inclusion in your ERA 2012 submission.
What constitutes a ‘spin-off company’ of an institution in relation to applied measures such patents?
The ERA 2012 Submission Guidelines provide that institutions must submit Plant Breeder's Rights (section 22.214.171.124), Patents (126.96.36.199) and Registered Designs (188.8.131.52) as applied measures if they were granted to an eligible researcher, the institution, or an institution-owned subsidiary or spin-off company associated with the institution.
In this context, ownership of a company associated with the institution refers to an ownership interest (e.g. stock and rights to receiving stock) in a company which was dependent upon the licensing of IP or the bestowing of tacit knowledge from the institution (or a commercialisation company wholly owned by the institution) in order to become operational.
Please note that institutions must only submit Plant Breeder's Rights, Patents and Registered Designs that were granted during the ERA 2012 applied measures reference period and that were based upon research that meets the ERA definition of research.
Do all esteem measures follow the eligible researcher?
As with research outputs, esteem measures follow the eligible researcher. For example, if the researcher was at one institution when he or she received an Australia Council grant or fellowship and at another institution at the staff census date (31 March 2011), only the latter institution may claim the esteem measure (see section 5.7 of the ERA 2012 Submission Guidelines).
The only exception to this is nationally competitive research fellowships. In this case, institutions are required to submit details of eligible fellowships for which they have been administering/host organisation at any time during the esteem measures reference period, regardless of the recipient’s place of employment as at the staff census date (see section 184.108.40.206 of the ERA 2012 Submission Guidelines).
Where can I find further information about ERA 2012 publication tagging?
Institutions have been notified by Sciverse Scopus, through their ERA Liaison Officers, about details of the ERA 2012 publication tagging service. Further information can be obtained from the ERA 2012 Citation Provider page and the SciVerse Scopus EID tagging website.
What if I am not happy with the tagging service?
If you are not satisfied with the result of the EID tagging, please contact Scopus at firstname.lastname@example.org to rectify any errors or omissions in the first instance.
You may also contact the ARC at email@example.com you are not satisfied with the service provided by Scopus.
What is an indexed journal / journal article?
A journal is ‘indexed’ when its bibliographic and citation information is included by the citation data supplier.
A journal article is ‘indexed’ when a unique electronic identifier (EID) exists for the journal article.
How do I know whether a journal is indexed?
A list of titles indexed by Scopus is available from the Scopus EID tagging website.
What happens with non-indexed journals?
If the research output submitted is published in a journal not indexed by Scopus, but is on the ERA 2012 Journal List, it must still be submitted to ERA but it will not be eligible for citation analysis. The non-indexed output will contribute to other ERA indicators such as the Outlet Frequency and Volume and Activity indicators.
Please note that for disciplines that use citation analysis as an indicator (See ERA 2012 Discipline Matrix), only those journal articles which have a unique electronic identifier (EID) contribute to the Low Volume Threshold for ERA.
How does the reassignment exception affect publication tagging?
If you are applying the reassignment exception to a journal article, and you intend to reassign the journal article to a citation analysis discipline (See ERA 2012 Discipline Matrix), you must check whether the journal that the article is published in is indexed by Scopus, regardless of the journal’s original Field of Research (FoR) code assignment in the ERA 2012 Journal List. If it is indexed by Scopus, you must submit the journal article to Scopus for EID tagging. Please note that for disciplines that use citation analysis as an indicator, only those journal articles which have a unique electronic identifier (EID) contribute to the Low Volume Threshold for ERA.
Conversely, if you are applying the reassignment exception to a journal article, and you intend to reassign the journal article to a non-citation discipline, you will not be required to obtain an EID, even if the journal is indexed by Scopus.
What are the refinements for ERA 2012?
On 30 May 2011, Senator Kim Carr, former Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, announced improvements to the ERA methodology, based on feedback received and experience gained from the ERA 2010 evaluations. These are:
- The withdrawal of the Ranked Outlets indicator and the introduction of a refined journal indicator that does not use prescriptive ranks.
- Improved capability to accommodate interdisciplinary research – in an extension of the arrangement successfully trialled in 2010 for the mathematical sciences, institutions will be permitted to code a journal article with significant content (66% or greater) not represented by the journal's FoR(s) to the FoR code that best describes the content.
- For peer review disciplines, an increase in the low volume threshold to 50 apportioned weighted outputs, bringing it in line with the threshold for citation disciplines (50 apportioned indexed articles).
- A change in the rules for the attribution of patents, plant breeders’ rights and registered designs to allow them to be submitted when they are granted to eligible researchers (as well as when they are granted to institutions).
- The modification of fractional staff eligibility requirements so that staff employed at 0.4 FTE or greater are automatically eligible, while staff below this threshold are eligible where affiliation is shown (through use of a by-line, for instance).
In addition, the ARC is exploring ways to strengthen the peer review process.
Why are the changes being made now?
The first full round of ERA was completed in late 2010 and the results were published in early 2011. Following the completion of two public consultations in preparation for ERA 2012, the ARC has had the opportunity to consider options for refining the ERA methodology based upon the experience gained from the first full round of ERA evaluations and subsequent feedback.
What is the change to the journal indicator?
During the ERA 2012 evaluation, REC members will be provided with the new journal indicator, which will replace the ranked journal indicator used in the ERA 2010 evaluation. The new indicator will display, for each unit of evaluation, a table listing all of the journals in which the articles submitted to that UoE are published. Journals in this table will be ordered by the number of articles, such that the journal containing the greatest number of articles for that university’s UoE will appear at the top of the table, then the second greatest, and so on. The indicator will display the journal titles, the total apportioned articles published in them, the contribution of that number of apportioned articles to the university’s UoE’s total article count (as a percentage) and a cumulative percentage.
The table will be unique to each UoE because of the different publishing patterns of disciplines across different institutions. Building on their own knowledge, RECs will be able to identify the depth and spread of publishing behaviours within a UoE. The table will inform expert judgements regarding the relevance of the journals to the research being published e.g. ‘Is this an appropriate journal for this research?’. ‘Is it a highly regarded journal?’ This will allow RECs to take into account any regional or applied focus of research in a UoE.
As before, REC members will be able to drill down to article level data from the table, so will not be making their judgments solely on the basis of journal titles or article counts. The table will not include information about the quality of journals, per se, but will focus assessments on the publishing behaviours of a UoE and the relevance of the outputs to the research presented and the overall profile of the UoE as presented in the other ERA indicators. The new journal indicator will not use prescriptive A*/A/B/C ranks.
Will the refined journal indicator show the whole article count or apportioned article count?
The ‘papers’ column in the journal indicator will show the sum of apportioned articles that contribute to the Unit of Evaluation (UoE).
Will the new journal indicator only show the top 20 journals?
No. The indicator will show all journals in which the UoE has published articles eligible for ERA. Though the examples show only 20 records, the table will list all journals in which the articles submitted to that UoE are published.
Will there still be a journal list for ERA 2012?
Yes. The ARC will continue to maintain a list of eligible journals and their relevant field of research (FoR) codes.
The ERA 2012 Journal List will show the journals that are eligible for ERA 2012 submissions – that is, scholarly, peer reviewed journals that publish original research and were active during the ERA 2012 reference period for research outputs (1 January 2005 – 31 December 2010).
What will the ERA 2012 Journal List include?
For each journal, the ERA 2012 Journal List will include:
- ERA ID (unique to each journal)
- Journal title
- Foreign title (where available)
- Up to three field of research (FoR) codes
Why are ranks no longer being used?
The change enables journal quality to remain an indicator for ERA 2012, while discouraging the use of assessments of journal quality beyond their role as an ERA indicator. It will ensure that the indicator is kept in proper perspective, while maintaining ERA’s rigour and focus on quality.
An essential feature of ERA is and has always been that it uses a range of indicators—not just journal rankings. Those most engaged with ERA understand this, however, the focus on journal rankings has led to some undesirable consequences. Experience from the ERA 2010 evaluation meeting also suggested that, although journal quality is an important indicator, the ranks themselves did not play a crucial part in the evaluation process. ARC analyses subsequent to the publication of the ERA 2010 National Report supports this.
ERA was developed around the principle of expert evaluation informed by metrics—the journal indicator remains the only universal indicator pertaining to all disciplines, but the principle of expert opinion informed by metrics and peer review (where relevant) remains the same.
Why will the ERA 2012 Journal List still include FoRs?
The ARC will continue to maintain a list of eligible journals and their relevant FoR codes to preserve the integrity of citation benchmark metrics. These benchmarks do not rely on the rankings, and therefore, the benchmarks will not be affected by these changes.
It is important that changes to the journal FoR assignments are limited between the ERA 2010 and ERA 2012 lists, as any substantial changes may impact significantly on citation benchmarks, and hence on ERA methodology.
What do the ERA 2010 ranks mean now?
The ERA 2010 Ranked Journal and Ranked Conference Lists are not current. They were developed for the ERA 2010 evaluation only and were not intended to be used for any other purpose.
The ERA 2010 Ranked Journal and Ranked Conference Lists relate to the ERA 2010 reference period of 1 January 2003 - 31 December 2008. Journals and conferences may change in quality over time or may cease. The rankings should not be used to make assessments about the quality of journals or conferences today.
Will ERA 2010 and ERA 2012 results be comparable, given the change to the journal indicator?
Yes. The refined journal indicator will continue to allow RECs to make assessments about the quality of research outputs. The other indicators used in the ERA 2010 evaluations (citation analysis, peer review, research income, esteem measures and applied measures) will continue to be used in ERA 2012, along with the refined journal indicator. The framework has been maintained to ensure that ERA 2010 and 2012 results are comparable.
RECs undertook ERA 2010 evaluations based on a range of indicators. Ranked journal and conference indicators were one of the indicators of research quality and were not weighted above other indicators. REC members routinely chose to access article level details from journal and conference lists, in addition to their rankings. Feedback from REC members indicates that they used their expert knowledge to interpret ranked outlet indicators based on this more detailed information. The refined journal indicator recognises and will facilitate the REC members’ expert judgment.
How is the ERA 2012 Journal List being developed?
The ERA 2012 Journal List will be based on the ERA 2010 Journal List. The ERA 2010 Journal List was developed over a two year period through several rounds of consultation with the public, discipline peak bodies and discipline experts.
To finalise the ERA 2012 Journal List, the ARC will consider all feedback received during the two public consultation periods apart from that relating to ranks. That is, all information relating to journal titles, ISSNs, FoR code assignment, and whether journals are scholarly, peer reviewed and were active during the ERA 2012 reference period (1 January 2005 – 31 December 2010).
What does this mean for ARC grant applications and assessment?
There will be no effect, as ERA journal rankings have never formed part of the assessment of ARC applications for funding under the National Competitive Grants Scheme.
What other indicators will be used in the ERA 2012 evaluations?
ERA evaluations will continue to be informed by a range of indicators of research quality. The other indicators used in the ERA 2010 evaluations (citation analysis, peer review, research income, esteem measures and applied measures) will continue to be used in ERA 2012, along with the refined journal indicator.
A publishing frequency indicator, similar to the journal indicator, will also be used for books, book chapters and conferences. As there will not be a ranked conference indicator for ERA 2012, a conference list will not be used.