Union calls on UNSW to hold new research metrics for more consultation

Proposed research metrics for UNSW continue contentious. Last year the university proposed performance measures, which PVC Academic Excellence Anne Simmons said met staff demand for “a more formal quantitative way to measure what ‘good’ looks like in their discipline at their academic level,” (CMM November 19). Just not all staff. Consultation was supposed to close at the end of November, but there were claims that it was not long enough and so management agreeably extended the review period, to last week.

A big cause of continuing conniptions is research output, including publishing in journals chosen by faculties and/or which rate on the SCimago ranking. Scoring staff on research funds earned, citation rates and higher degree completions also alarm some.

According to the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, the proposed metrics do not account for the circumstances of individuals. They also “undermine research” by “directing our efforts to winning unrealistic grants and high volume publishing” rather than “slower, more time-consuming efforts to generate novel research” and will generate a status-obsessed “star culture,” “at the expense of experimentation and the reality and virtue of failure.”

The union proposes another six months for “meaningful collegial development,” to “collectively shape the evaluative principles and approaches to career development and performance review that will support our teaching and research.”


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