Promoting sociology in Australia
Facilitating sociology teaching and research
Enhancing the professional development of TASA members
The Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative is managed by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and was implemented in 2010. The ERA assesses research quality within Australia’s higher education institutions using a combination of indicators and expert review by committees comprising experienced, internationally-recognised experts. Sociology was assessed as part of Cluster Four: Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences (SBE). The next ERA round will be in 2012. Further information is available here.
National Tertiary Education Union document on the Impact of ERA Research Assessment on University Behaviour and their Staff
The release of the ERA results today shows that the discipline of Sociology as a whole has done better than the last round but we still have quite a way to go to be well regarded relative to other disciplines. Sociology (code 1608) received an average national rating of 2.9 out of 5 (up from 2.4 last time). The benchmark set by the ARC was 3 so we have achieved a pass grade this time, which is a relief. The average score for social science disciplines (3) remains lower than many other discipline groupings so we are not alone at scoring ourselves harshly.
The ERA reports again point to the health of our discipline but also to some attrition since the last ERA round. Sociology is substantial – we are present at most universities with 29 institutions assessed in the ERA. With 457 FTE staff members we were the second largest social science discipline assessed following politics with 491 staff. We submitted more publications (4,591) for the 2012 round and generated more research income ($70,964,733) too. Again the Sandstones did relatively well while the Regional Universities struggled. Congratulations to colleagues at ANU, Melbourne, UNSW, UQ and Sydney for gaining a 4! Sadly no universities received a score of 5 for Sociology this round, which is something we need to work on.
We must continue to act strategically, politically and effectively to raise the profile of our discipline within individual universities and higher education as a whole and TASA is committed to facilitating and supporting you in this.
We now want to open a discussion on the website and in Nexus about the 2012 ERA and what it means for us as a diverse discipline and how we can best act collectively in the future – don’t be shy to submit your constructive opinion (see ERA Discussion Forum details below).
The ERA outcomes are available at http://www.arc.gov.au/era/era_2012/outcomes_2012.htm
A/Prof Jo Lindsay
Vice President of TASA
A discussion forum on what the ERA means for Sociology is now open. If you would like to add a discussion item, please submit your comments via the submission box below or email them directly to email@example.com.
Deborah Lupton- 7/12/2012
In relation to Jo Lindsay suggesting that Australian sociology needs to improve its public profile, then of course I would suggest the use of social media by sociologists here. Sociologists need to be trained in how to engage with the public and the news media using social media. One suggestion is the idea of a multi-authored blog administered by TASA, where many people can contribute and it would therefore be not too onerous on one person. (It can also re-blog posts by people like me who already have a blog.) This would be a great way to get out our ideas and research findings in an accessible way and contribute positively to our public profile.
Draft 2012 Journal List
The draft journal list for the 2012 round of the ERA has been released and suggested amendments will be accepted by Monday 19 September. A wide range of journals have now been coded as Sociology '1608'. Go to http://www.arc.gov.au/era/era_2012/era_consultation.htm.
Jo Lindsay 6/9/2011
The ARC has announced improvements to the next round of the ERA – details are here.
The major issues to note from the ARC announcement on May 30 are;
What do these changes mean for our discipline? On the face of it these changes are positive – no more wrangling over journal rankings and more flexibility for universities to decide how they will be assessed. But one big problem remains and will perhaps intensify –the peer review process did not work well for Sociology in the last round and the review panels will be given more power to decide on quality and our collective fate in the next round.
Jo Lindsay 23/6/11
See information on the refined ERA journal indicator here.
The Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS) have welcomed the changes to the journal ranking system. Further details here.
Of the 34 universities assessed in sociology as part of the ERA, 41% received a ranking of 3 (world standard) or above. Overall, sociology received a ranking of 2.4 so there is definitely room for improvement. We would like to hear your views on how sociology as a discipline can improve its ranking. As part of our consultation process, we are interested in your ideas about how sociology might position itself better and how the ERA process might be improved.
To start thinking through some of the issues, TASA asked Mark Western to contribute his ideas, which are below. In a thought-provoking piece, Mark identifies a number of aspects of the ERA that, if changed, could have real bearing on sociology’s ranking. Jo Lindsay, TASA Vice President and coordinator of TASA’s ERA response, has also contributed a short article. Outside of sociology, an article by Judith Brett (The Australian 9/2/11) is informative. Please read these in conjunction with information on the ERA website and contact TASA (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any strategic, practical ideas you may have about how sociology can improve its performance in the next round. These will be posted below for all members to read.
We also encourage you to participate in the public consultation process – please nominate TASA as the peak body organisation associated with sociology journals. TASA will then become one of the organisations officially ‘consulted’ during the ERA Review process. TASA has conducted a review of the journals in consultation with members. The list, below ‘TASA ticket for the ERA consultation’, has details that may help you complete the forms.
'ERA 2010 – The wash up for Sociology' by Jo Lindsay
'ERA and the Social Sciences' by Judith Brett
The 2010 results of the ERA have now been announced and are available at: http://www.arc.gov.au/era/outcomes_2010.htm
Suggest new links or articles for this page by emailing: A/Prof Jo Lindsay, TASA executive member (Strategic Direction and ERA) Jo.Lindsay@ monash.edu.au