News & Views item - May 2010



The ERA and Newton's First Law*. (May 24, 2010)

A week before the May budget was brought down the Australian Research Council published Excellence in Research for Australia: ERA 2010 Evaluation Guidelines, the most recent of 8 documents which it refers to as "Key 2010 Documents" with respect to developing its implementation of the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research's research assessment beyond peer review of research proposals with a view to apportioning research funding to university administrations -- as distinct from principal investigators.


The purpose of the fifty-three page "Evaluation Guidelines" is given as follows:




It all should make delightful bedtime reading, otherwise has anyone calculated the thousands of person hours that have been and will be spent on this folly rather than productive work?


N.B. While referring to the previous government's attempts to morph the peer-reviewed approach of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) into a metric based Research Excellence Framework the new UK Minister of State for Science and Universities, David Willetts, remarked: "We cannot reduce science to an economic balance sheet," and even questioned whether the expensive, time-consuming RAE was the best way to evaluate where funding should go.



*In the absence of a net force, the centre of mass of a body either is at rest or moves at a constant velocity. Therefore, a body in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon.