There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

* It took the University of Canberra just three years to make the Australian top ten in the Times Higher ranking – here’s how they did it

* Kelly Matthews (Uni Queensland) on engaging with students as partners. Another essay in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series on what we need now in teaching and learning.

* Tony Peacock (CRC Association)  on  why the patent box is a research and development tax concession we don’t need

The joke’s on them

A dodgy journal publisher and a disreputable banker walk into a pub – sadly for them the Chief Scientist is at the bar. Scroll down for Alan Finkel proposal for protecting research integrity.

Rankings adored, rankings ignored

There was a jacenko of self-promotion yesterday as universities announced their improving achievements in the Times Higher  Education rankings

Understandably so, the news was close to universally good. As the Times Higher Education organisation points out, “on average, Australian universities improved on 12 of the 13 metrics underpinning the ranking over the past year … . The higher-ranking positions are primarily driven by their improved citation impact scores, as well as excellent scores for research environment and international outlook.”

But THE also mentions; “many Australian universities fall behind international rivals when it comes to teaching reputation scores.”

This may, suggests a learned reader wise in performance metrics, explain why universities that trumpet rankings to the heaven go quiet when the student-survey based Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching outcomes are announced.

Finkel calls for quality over-sight in research

Research publishing needs a quality auditor, you can bank on – Chief Scientist Alan Finkel explains

Dr Finkel has renewed his call for research publishing oversight. In a speech to the Peter Doherty Institute yesterday he suggested that the incentive basis of research funding could encourage sub-standard papers in pursuit of reward maximising-metrics, reminiscent of behaviour identified in the banking royal commission.

“The lessons arising from the Royal Commission are inherently relevant to the research sector.  Specifically, there are some incentives within the research community that, in my view, need to be looked at.  It’s not that the system is broken.  It’s more that we may be inadvertently encouraging poor behaviour. And to ensure research remains high-quality and trustworthy, we need to get the incentives right.”

The problem, the Chief Scientist said is, “the competition for funding is fierce and is increasing every day. The temptation to judge a researcher’s performance through simple metrics is strong.” … “Getting research published has, in some cases, become more important than getting it right,” Dr Finkel said.

To ensure quality over cash for quantity he proposed;

* funding agencies comprehensively use the “rule of five” in assessing grant applications – five best publications over five years

* accredited research integrity training mandatory for grant applicants, and:

* tackling “predatory, evil, crooked,” pay-to-publish, no peer-review journals, via a Publication Process Quality Assurance

Compliance with PPQA would indicate to researchers, research institutions, libraries and granting agencies that the journal follows internationally accepted guidelines for the publication process.”

Dr Finkel put the possibility of a private provider over-sighting journal quality, pointing to Clarivate Analytics for the, “rigour of their journal selection process – focussed on agreed standards, not citation impact.”

The Chief Scientist’s new speech expands the quality assurance case he made in Hong Kong in June, (CMM June 4). “I’ll be continuing to have conversations with granting agencies in Australia and around the world on how to end the business model of predatory publishers,” he said yesterday.

ARC Laureate Fellows announced  

The Australian Research Council to fund 17 elite researchers

The fellowships provide a five-year salary supplement on top of Level E pay from their institution, plus two postdocs for five years, two postgrads for four and a $300 000 per annum project funding.

This year’s fellows are:

ANU: Rupert Grafton (Indigenous Australians relationship with water). Barry Pogson (synthetic biology to create higher-yield resilient plants)

James Cook U: David Bellwood (ecosystems of coral reefs)

Monash U: John Grundy (human-centric software).  Lynette Russell (database of Indigenous Australians contact with sea-farers).

RMIT: Yi-Min (Mike) Xie (computational process for manufacturing)

Uni Melbourne: Nina Wedell (insecticide resistance in flies)

UNSW: Kaarin Anstey (cognitive ageing). Liming Dai (carbon-based catalysis processes for renewable energy). Andrew Dzurak (commercial-ready quantum computer processor).

Uni Queensland: Debra Bernhardt (molecular simulation models and clean energy). Sara Dolnicar (predictive theory of pro-environment behaviour in leisure/tourism). Lianzhou Wang (creating fuel and chemicals from water and carbon dioxide)

Uni Sydney: Marcela Bilek (porous and dispersed materials in biomedicine).

UWA:  Enrico Valdinoci (mathematical analysis)

UTS: Jie Lu (big data and machine learning)

Western Sydney U: Belinda Medlyn (predictive model, Australian vegetation dynamics)

Next in design at UNSW

UNSW opens Design Next today – styled to teach at the interface of engineering and design where form and function fit

Classes in the new facility are set to start next year, with 5000 students already enrolled from four faculties, art & design, built environment, business and engineering.

They will study in cross-disciplinary teams that combine technology with user-focused design. One course already underway has engineering and art-design students working with Vespa on a future scooter.

Design Next is led by Finnish industrial designer Ilpo Koskinen. UNSW is said to see the new project as transformative for industry in Australia, graduating 4 000 students a year trained in technology and design.

Students study for-credit in their enrolled faculties, with four multi-discipline subjects available in all faculties and taught by multidisciplinary staff. New centre-specific subjects will be introduced from next year to 2022.

The project is overseen by the four participating faculties, administered by engineering and funded direct by the DVC A.

Appointments, achievements

For Friday

 John Mattick joins UNSW’s School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences next month. A former ED of the Garvan Institute, he was most recently chief executive of Genomics England.

The history short-list for the Prime Minister’s literary prizes is: Clare Wright (La Trobe U) for You Daughters of Freedom: The Australians who Won the Vote and Inspired the world. Anna Haebich, Dancing in Shadows: Histories of Nyungar Performance. Billy Griffiths (Deakin U), Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia. Meredith Lake, (Uni Sydney), The Bible in Australia: a cultural history. David Kemp (ANZ School of Government) The Land of Dreams: How Australians Won Their Freedom, 1788-1860.

University campus security teams winning awards at the Safe Zone conference include; University of Queensland, University of Wollongong and CQU.

Of the week

 Antje Blumenthal (Uni Queensland is the Life Sciences Research Leader in the 2019 Women in Technology, Queensland awards.

Uni Queensland’s Jo Bowles (biomedical science) and Kate Schroder (molecular bioscience) are joint winners of the emerging leader award from the ANZ Society for Cell and Developmental Biology.

Bronwyn Evans is the new CEO of Engineers Australia.  She is a recent head of the federal government’s medtech and pharma industry growth centre MTP connect.

Canberra poet John Foulcher wins the $10 000 Australian Catholic University poetry prize.

Monash U announces Guy Geltner will join next year as professor of medieval and renaissance history. He moves from the University of Amsterdam.

Parisa Glass from the George Institute for Global Health is appointed guest of the chair at the MedTech and Pharma Growth Centre. She will attend board meetings and “interact” with directors and senior managers.

Sarah Joseph reports she will move to Griffith U’s law school in February. She is now director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash U.

Elisa Martinez-Marroquin is appointed academic board chair at the University of Canberra for three years, commencing January 1.

Jacques Miller (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute) shares the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award with Max Cooper (Emory U). Their work is said “to have launched the course of modern immunology.”

Michal Sprlak (School of Engineering, Uni Newcastle) wins the quadrennial Guy Bomford prize from the International Association of Geodesy.

The University of Sydney announces the third group of Payne-Scott professors, nominated by colleagues for academic achievement and contribution to the university community. This year’s awards go to; Louise Baur (child health), Phyllis Butow (psychology), Stefan Williams (engineering) and Hala Zreiqat (engineering). The programme is named for UniSydney graduate, physicist and radio astronomer , Ruby Payne-Scott.

Michael Wesley joins the University of Melbourne as DVC International. He moves from dean of College of Asia and the Pacific at ANU.

 Myles Young is health fund Bupa’s emerging health researcher for 2019. Dr Young works on weight loss programmes for men, at the University of Newcastle

Curtin U brand building: as not seen on TV

Work-teams of Curtin U staff and students are scheduled to spend a September weekend volunteering on community service in 32 metro and regional WA centres.

The Sarawak and Singapore campuses are also involved.  It’s the programme’s 25th year and commemorates the service of PM John Curtin.  Want a way to create community awareness that is way cheaper and far more credible than a corporate media campaign?