Draft guidelines for next ERA round emphasises the role of grey literature

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On 6 December 2012, the Government announced that a further round of Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) would take place in 2015.

From 10 January 2014 to 14 February 2014, the Australian Research Council sought feedback on the Draft ERA 2015 Submission Documents.

The draft guidelines for the 2015 round of the Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) include new options for submitting 'Research Reports for an External Body'.

According to the Draft ERA 2015 Submission Guidelines* under '5.4.9. Non-Traditional Eligible Research Output Types':

"A Research Report for an External Body is a written research output commissioned or solicited by an external body such as a government department or private company.

To be eligible to be submitted, a research report must:

  • meet the definition of research as per section 3.1;
  • not be eligible to be submitted as a traditional research output; and
  • have been published or made publicly available during the reference period for research outputs.

Sub-categories of Research Report for an External Body are as follows:
Public Sector: A research report that has been undertaken for an Australian, state, territory, local, foreign or international government body or organisation.
Industry: A research report that has been undertaken for a company, industry organisation, industry peak body, or an employer/employee association.
Not-For-Profit: A research report that has been undertaken for a body or organisation operating in the not-for-profit sector.
Other: A research report undertaken for an organisation not covered by the above sub-categories.

Portfolios are eligible for submission in this subcategory.
The following examples are ineligible for submission under this subcategroy:

  • submissions to public inquiries and consultations, including government or parliamentary inquiries;
  • policy blogs or online commentaries/articles; and
  • briefing notes or reports initiated by the researcher (as opposed to an external body).
  • In some cases, the above items may be eligible as part of a portfolio.

Research reports that contain sensitive, confidential or classified material must only be submitted as per the requirements in section 6.1 (Sensitivity—Confidential or Sensitive Research Outputs).

This is a very encouraging step towards recognizing and rewarding the production of alternative forms of publication, ones that often have the greatest impact for policy and practice. This follows the inclusion of reports in the 'Other' category in the previous round of ERA which was rather obscure and not taken up as an option by many academics.

We would encourage researchers to take up this option and begin to change the culture of only measuring journal output. This is the change that has often been called for and must now be utilised if it is going to have any effect. There will be various challenges however, such as ensuring reports are publicly available, have correct metadata and are able to be assessed effectively. The GLS project has made a submission to the consultation and we look forward to working further with the ARC to help ensure this change is adopted and successful.

*The submission guidelines were available online during the consultation period but are no longer available on the ARC's website.

ERA 2015: http://www.arc.gov.au/era/era_2015/era_2015.htm