ACU celebrates ERA results

A message from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Wayne McKenna.

The Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) outcomes released last week demonstrate another major improvement in ACU’s research profile. They show that ACU is achieving research outcomes above or well above world standard in our areas of strategic priority.

The Faculty of Health Sciences achieved ten top scores of five, well-above world standard, in Medical and Health Sciences, and in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences. For health sciences in the last ERA we achieved five scores of 5, one of 4, and one of 1; in this ERA, in health sciences, there was not a single score below 5 and we doubled the number of scores of 5 that we achieved.

ACU has also made excellent progress with our scores in education. Across the three Field of Research (FoR) codes of 1301 Education Systems, 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy, and 1303 Specialist Studies in Education, there were 93 assessments at four-digit level and only four scores of 5; one each for ACU, Melbourne, Sydney, New South Wales. No other universities managed a score of 5 in any of the four-digit fields of research in education. In the last ERA we scored 3, 3, and 4 in this field of research. In this ERA ACU maintained its 3 in 1301 Education Systems, improved in 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy, moving up from a 3 to a 4, and improved in 1303 Specialist Studies in Education, moving up from a 4 to a 5. At two-digit level, FoR 13 Education, our overall score of 4 improved on our previous score of 3. Only two universities achieved a top score of 5 in education at two-digit level (FoR 13): the University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales (with the result of UNSW based on one FoR code, 1303).

In Religion and Religious Studies, ACU scored the highest result for any Australian university, achieving the only score of 4 awarded this year. No Australian university has ever scored a 5 in this field of research, and ACU is the only one to perform consistently above world standard over the past six years. With the recent expansion in biblical and early Christian studies, religion and theology, and medieval and early modern studies, ACU is leading the field nationally in FoR 2204 Religion and Religious Studies and well-placed in pursuit of a 5 in the next ERA.

In Philosophy, ACU has been recognised as above world standard for the past two assessment rounds. The creation of a new Institute for Philosophy will strengthen the University’s profile in this priority area with the aim of achieving a world-leading position for philosophical research in the analytic tradition. New research appointments in 2019 are expected to improve ACU’s performance in moral philosophy and ethics, political philosophy, metaphysics and epistemology in the next ERA submission, which will include outputs up until the end of 2019.

In other fields of research, scores of 3, world standard, were achieved in business and management, law, history, politics, and sociology. Some of these areas have been strengthened recently and should improve on those scores in the next ERA.

The most recent ERA results not only confirm research excellence in ACU’s strategic priority areas. They are also evidence that we have become, within a relatively short period of time, a leading Australian university, above and well above the world standard in the research that aligns with our core mission and identity.

A great many people have contributed to this remarkable transition. They include a significant number of early career as well as senior researchers, as well as the professional staff who provide the support without which the researchers could not achieve these results. All are to be commended for their hard work and should be congratulated on achieving this outstanding result for ACU. I should also like to acknowledge the strategic support of the Senate, the Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Craven, the Senior Executive team, and all of the leaders in the University who have contributed to a marvellous collective effort.

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