Re: Australian Opposition metrics

From: Arthur Sale <>
Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2007 15:27:00 +1000

It is necessary to realize that my posting related to some policies/speeches
that the Labor Opposition have released months before the election is
called. They are therefore imprecise to avoid giving the Government a

Reading between the lines, I would suspect that there are two aims:
(a) to avoid completely any panel based assessment and its costs, since we
haven't ever done one before. It follows that the metrics could be validated
on the RAE, or they could be rather simple. A parallel peer/metric exercise
would not fit the bill of saving money and effort.
(b) to eliminate the concept of Impact (socio-economic consequences) from
the assessment and to concentrate on Quality (assessed research outcomes).
In the RQF both will be funded based on different criteria.

The Opposition statement should be read in conjunction with the Australian
Productivity Commission Report, which probably gave it credibility.

Arthur Sale

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
> Sent: Wednesday, 20 June 2007 9:04 AM
> Subject: Re: [AMERICAN-SCIENTIST-OPEN-ACCESS-FORUM] Australian Opposition
> metrics
> Pertinent Prior AmSci Topic Threads:
> "Future UK RAEs to be Metrics-Based"
> "Australia's RQF"
> "Academics strike back at spurious rankings" (Nature, 31 May)
> On Tue, 19 Jun 2007, Arthur Sale wrote:
> > The Australian Opposition has announced that should they win office in a
> > federal election to be held later this year, they will scrap the
> > Government's planned RQF process (based on peer panels and the UK's
> > and replace it by a metric-based quality assessment.
> >
> > "The RQF process is cumbersome, costly and threatens to become
> > incredibly time-consuming. It is neither an efficient nor a
> > transparent way to allocate valuable research dollars to
> > "Labor will work hand in hand with researchers, and their
> > institutions, to develop a research quality assurance framework
> > that is world's best practice. It will be metrics based. It will
> > be transparent. It will take due account of differences between
> > disciplines and discipline groups so that measures are fair, and
> > funding can flow equitably."
> Expensive, time-consuming panel-reviews of research performance should
> certainly be phased out in favour of metrics, customised field by field.
> So an important question is: Against what will Australia's metrics
> be validated?
> The UK RAE is conducting one last *parallel* panel/metric exercise, in
> which various combinations of metrics can be systematically compared to
> and validated against panel rankings, field by field.
> Will the UK's RAE 2008 parallel exercise be Australia's testbed for
> metrics too? That might not be a bad idea. Though with plans for
> Australia's RQF already quite advanced, it might be even better to
> do a parallel panel/metric validation exercise in Australia too, to
> replicate and cross-validate the UK outcomes (perhaps in collaboration
> or coordination with the UK).
> (I certainly don't mean that panel rankings are the face-valid arbiters
> of research performance quality or impact! But they do have a history,
> at least in the UK, and so they provide a starting reference point.
> Human judgment will also be needed to tweak the metric weights to make
> sure they generate sensible rankings.)
> Unbiassed Open Access Metrics for the Research Assessment Exercise
> Harnad, S. (2007) Open Access Scientometrics and the UK Research
> Assessment Exercise. To appear in: Proceedings of 11th Annual Meeting
> of the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics,
> 25-27 June 2007, Madrid, Spain.
> Stevan Harnad
Received on Wed Jun 20 2007 - 12:45:19 BST

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