News & Views item - June 2008



Something to Ponder for Proponents of Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). (June 6, 2008)

For those who will be spending their time on developing the additional micro-managerial layer of the ERA (Excellence in Research for Australia) the matter raised in this week's Nature "From the Blogosphere" ought to give pause.



The purported raison d'être for the ERA is no less based on faith than that of the Howard Coalition's Research Quality Framework, or the UK's Research Assessment Exercise.


You might expect some in the scientific community who might get the government to listen to say: "show me some sound data to support the contention that second guessing the peer review system of grant application assessment improves scientific research." Hasn't happened so far.


Millions of dollars will be spent, and thousands of hours of researchers time wasted on what Yogi Barra would refer to as déjà vu all over again.


The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research's Consultation Paper informs us that:



Perhaps at the end of this exercise Ministers Carr and Gillard will front up and show us all where all this expenditure has improved matters as compared to the assessments made by the peer reviewers of the grant applications that they vetted.


If they can, there is something mighty wrong with Australia's peer review system and then, assuming we're looking to being a knowledge nation, we are in big trouble.


On the other hand perhaps a new system of research governance is being invented -- transparent micromanagement.


Should do wonders for getting out best and brightest to see what's on offer elsewhere?