Comparing CQU researchers

CQU wants to codify research workloads for academic staff, allocating them to five categories from teaching-intensive (75 per cent teaching/15 per cent scholarship/10 per cent engagement) to research-intensive (20 per cent teaching/ 70 per cent research and  10 per cent service and engagement).

The university sets out research productivity based on ARC data from Excellence for Research in Australia, ranging from not much for junior HASS academics to 24 publications and $750 000 over three years for a research intensive STEM professor. There are two detailed charts specifying required outputs in great detail by discipline and academic rank. With this system in place it would be easy indeed for the university to suggest to staff that their performance dictates moves either to more or less research intensive categories.

The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union is surveying staff on this, including questions which could consign CQU to second-class status.  Thus the union asks members if the measure for research publications and income should be the national ERA average for their discipline, or the average for academics at institutions in the Regional Universities Network. This would be an excellent way of reducing performance pressure and an even better way to concede that CQU staff do not want to be compared against their peers at research intensive institutions – an outcome the Group of Eight would remember come the next argument over research funding distribution.

But the CQU comrades could be underestimating the RUN group’s research performance. Last year XinGu and Karen Blackmore from the University of Newcastle crunched journal data for three unnamed universities, a sandstone a middle tier institution and a “non-comprehensive” one (CMM September 8 2017). Among many other findings, they discovered that in recent years output per researcher at all three has converged.


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