To boldly go where reports have gone before

ERA underway

Yes, it’s that time again with the next Excellence in Research for Australia round underway.  Submissions on the proposed terms of ERA 2015 close today week but you still have a month to have a say on the draft journal and conference list.

Oh good, another inquiry

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has released the issues briefing for the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, which includes an all but open invitation for the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture and research bodies to make a case for more money.  The issues paper acknowledges agriculture needs more young, and educated workers and also suggests submissions consider “the efficiency and competitiveness of inputs to the agriculture value chain — such as skills, training, education and human capital; research and development; and critical infrastructure.” The education aspects should not take too long, what with (Charles Sturt University’s) Jim Pratley’s 2012 report for the NSW Government. And the Productivity Commission’s not entirely complimentary report on rural research and development corporations might merit a look.

Money where your mouth is

There is a petition circulating among UniSuper members urging the fund “to reduce its fossil fuel exposure across all portfolios, starting with the creation of a balanced 100% fossil fuel free fund that is open to all members.” The campaign claims UniSuper has $1bn “invested in the fossil fuel industry, including some of the largest fossil fuel companies on the planet. These are companies whose activities will turn the Great Barrier Reef into a coal and gas shipping highway, the Kimberley into a gas hub, forests into coal mines and the climate into a disaster site.”
The petition is under the auspices of the New York based 350 organisation, which describers itself as “building a global climate movement” (through) “climate-focused campaign, projects and actions led from the bottom-up by people in 188 countries.”
I rang UniSuper for comment, which I will report if anybody rings back.

Near enough is good enough

According to Research Australia, Chief Scientist Ian Chubb discussed “his proposals for a new science strategy with 60 representatives from business, government and academia” yesterday. Um, no, it was Wednesday. And Professor Chubb was talking about aspirations rather than setting out strategic specifics – Eleanor Hall’s interview with him on the  World Today got it right. And it wasn’t the Chief Scientist’s meeting; in fact he was speaking at a Sydney Business Chamber function. But otherwise RA nailed it.

Slim scholarly pickings

The Council for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences has opened nominations for 2014 for a book and other forms of research that “contributes most to Australian cultural and intellectual life.” The prize is $3500; no I did not leave a zero off.

Floods of facts

A couple of years back University of Sydney scientists Alex Holcombe and Matthew Todd made the case for open access to research data, the really big files needed to replicate experiments. “As science is currently practiced, many research publications are more like press releases or executive summaries than detailed records of what was done and found. They are descriptions of the primary outcome the authors wish to reveal, often with insufficient supporting data for readers to validate the conclusions themselves,” they wrote back in 2012.  Well, a pair of California State researcher Joseph Paul Cohen and Henry Lo  are doing something about it, creating a bit torrent site “built for researchers, by researchers. Its distributed peer-to-peer library system automatically replicates your datasets on many servers, so you don’t have to worry about managing your own servers or file availability. Everyone who has data becomes a mirror for those data so the system is fault-tolerant.” One to watch.

Know something the world needs to know? Anonymity guaranteed but lots of questions asked, stephen4@hotkey.net.au