At Edith Cowan U VC Chapman has his research hires

In 2015, new Edith Cowan VC Steve Chapman announced the university would lift its research profile by buying-in senior talent (CMM August 12 2015). The target was 20 professorial research fellows and yesterday ECU got there. Aged-care researcher Beverley O’Connell joins Edith Cowan U, from University of Manitoba.

So how are the 20 going – yes, it’s too soon for everybody to have engaged and had an impact and yes rankings are all flawed – but it’s still a new ERA for ECU.

In 2015 the university had three disciplines above or well above world standard on Excellence in Research For Australia’s two-digit subject codes. In 2018 this doubled to six out of the 12 broad areas university staff work in.

Quantum of comprehension

Who would have thought – clear science comms 

University science communication often isn’t so, with statements edited by the researchers to infinite incomprehensibility and beyond. So, good-on UNSW’s Isabelle Dubach for a media statement on an achievement in ensuring accuracy in quantum computing that CMM understood, (the release, not the research).


Another election, another Mackerras prediction

When Malcolm McKerras first predicted election results he had to allow for senators being stabbed in the Senate  

Now an honorary fellow at Australian Catholic U, Mr Mackerras says the Reps will go to Labor on Saturday with a 1.7 per cent swing, delivering Bill Shorten 79 seats, against 72 for all others. He expects a hung Senate, with three independents holding the balance of power.  Mr Mackerras’ analysis is in Switzer Daily.  It’s another achievement for a bloke present at the foundation of Australian election analysis.

Labor wins the vision-thing

The Coalition’s campaigning heart just isn’t in unis

It seemed there would be no Labor announcement of funding for a university yesterday, which was unusual. But there was a Coalition commitment, $215 000 for basketball courts at the University of Canberra.  It followed Prime Minister Morrison announcing Monday $600 000 to fund a change room at Curtin U, for the Australian women’s high-performance hockey squad. Good and necessary projects no doubt but not exactly big vote winners. This is typical of the campaign – the government has not even tried to present itself as a friend of higher education.

And then, late in the day Labor created a contrast. Editorial CMM was just about to tell Production CMM to send the issue when the University of Adelaide reported a Labor commitment of $5m to fund a national children’s university programme. The UK-originated scheme has run at Uni Adelaide since 2013 and is designed to give disadvantaged 5-16 year old kids contact with universities.

Somehow, basketball courts don’t really rate.

Who knows what happens next in open access

Green for go might slow progress

Open access in Leiden lights: Leiden U is about to shine its bright-light on research performance. Every May its Centre for Science and Technology Studies reveals universities research impact, using Web of Science data and adjusting it for number and proportion of papers highly cited. It’s always interesting (yes CMM knows how sad that sounds) and this year Leidenhas got in ahead of itself with extra-intriguing advance information – open access indicators.

In 2018 ranking expert Ludo Waltman became a full professor at Leiden U, with a brief including open citations and proprietary data (CMM July 17 2018). And yesterday he tweeted the open access spread for the 963 universities in the new ranking. Some 41 per cent have OA publications, allocated between  various pay to publish models, with 32 per cent of them being green OA, where an author deposits a paper in an open archive.

What’s going on: Institutions taking-on the commercial publishers is what. In Europe university groups and governments are making open access a condition of contracts with the big commercial journal publishers which are used to charging what they like for people to read research papers.  The University of California recently cancelled negotiations with Elsevier over OA.

No, it’s not necessarily good: According to the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group,” large academic publishers have seen the writing on the wall and are rapidly diversifying, resulting in a highly-concentrated infrastructure market that threatens to shut down and monetise all aspects of the research process other than the final ‘open’ research output.”

So what happens next: CMM has no clue. But Danny Kingsley probably does. The OA expert is home after four years as libraries deputy director for scholarly communication & research services at Cambridge University. She’s talking at an AOASG webinar May 30.

Home delivery

It’s something to drink to

Sarah Callinan and colleagues (all La Trobe U) are surveying people on-line who have alcohol home delivered, apparently 23 per cent of Australian drinkers use get booze to the door . “This study aims to investigate the relationship between the use of alcohol delivery services and risky alcohol consumption,” they advise.

Adults who agree to participate can go in the draw for three Coles $50 vouchers. Yes, Coles home-delivers grog (but not in Queensland, Tasmania or to Alice Springs).

Happy birthday Bondies

Bond U quietly celebrates turning 30

There’s a photo-op at Bond U today, to celebrate the private provider’s 30 anniversary. Veteran staff will be there for interviews and alumni are organising a ball, on Saturday. It all appears understated, unlike the eponymous founder.


Robert Cunningham is the new dean of law at Curtin U, replacing Paul Fairall. He steps up from deputy head of the law schoolMr Fairall was appointed a permanent member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal last month.