Don’t drink to that

Deakin U wants people who would like to cut back on the grog to trial an app. Billed as a “pocket therapist” it provides, “psychological training that acts directly on automatic decision-making to change problematic drinking behaviour” and “helps users practice a method of replacing problematic habits with healthier ones.” Apparently, the app uses therapy strategies that work with smoking, eating and exercising.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features today, global ICT guru Hugh Bradlow presents his regular guided tour of the future

Rigorous regulation from exacting ASQA

After the VET FEE HELP catastrophe, it would be understandable for training regulator the Australian Skills Quality Authority to err on the side of  overly exacting, which is what private training providers fear it is doing. Rod Camm, outgoing head of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, reports members say ASQA, “has radically shifted to a more adversarial approach and is not willing to facilitate improved provider performance or outcomes.”

“In a general sense, members have concerns about ASQA’s relationship with the industry. Providers are looking for a positive relationship aimed at improving understanding and quality, rather than being seen as waving a ‘big stick’.”

Peak science lobby puts quotas on agenda for research grants

Peak lobby group Science and Technology Australia has put gender and experience quotas for research grants on the agenda, “to improve equity, diversity and inclusion.”

“Australia continues to do itself a disservice by failing to rise to the challenge of ensuring diversity among successful grantees, and therefore failing to nurture new and important perspectives. Australia is also guilty of failing to protect that diversity that exists in the system by supporting marginalised populations through periods of vulnerability,” STA states in its submission to the House of Representatives committee inquiry into the efficiency Commonwealth research system.

STA specifically suggests, considering diversity quotas, “for each field of research.” “This can quickly and effectively address the issue of gender disparity where it exists.” While acknowledging it could be difficult in some fields, STA also raises gender parity in research applications, suggesting, ”for every two applications received from an institution, one of those applications must have a female chief investigator.” And to stop researchers with long careers presenting the strongest track-record in research applications STA suggests considering a five-paper cap in submission bios.

A limit of 5 of the primary author’s “self-chosen best” publications not only provides an incentive for researchers to strive for high quality research, but also removes some of the barriers in the system for people that have had interruptions in their research career due to family, illness or other reasons.”

STA’s other recommendations include:
* a two-tiered grant selection process, to minimise time spent preparing/assessing unlikely to succeed applications

* an independent infrastructure advisory board

* a translational research fund for non-medical research, along the lines of the Medical Research Future Fund to, “increase business investment in research, and improve Australia’s standing as an innovation nation.”

STA also calls for transparency in grants that are not part of a contestable process. “While competitive grants provide clear outlines and transparent, contestable application processes, there appears to be a lack of such processes for these recent decisions around research infrastructure and the MRFF.”

What Doug Cameron really thinks about training

“The Australian training market provides a salutatory lesson in how market competition in education fails. It is important to remember that rent-seeking and rorting in the VET market pre-dates VET FEE HELP and has outlasted it.
The truth is that operating in the training market is a lucrative business if you don’t care about quality,” Doug Cameron, Labor spokesman for skills, TAFE and apprenticeships, yesterday.

Serious thinking on open citations   

Serious thinking on open citations   

Ludo Waltman is appointed a science professor, with an emphasis on quantitative studies at Leiden University. The reason the name rings a bell is Professor Waltman is responsible the ranking experts ranking, produced by Leiden U’s CWTS. One of his new research projects will be open citations, which now rely on proprietary data which some publishers do not like releasing.

 Achievements of the day

Some 60 University of Sydney staff are honoured in the vice chancellor’s awards including;

Bec Plumbe, educational designer in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry who wins the Outstanding Contribution to Educational Excellence.

Tara Murphy, aspro in the Faculty of Science receives the Outstanding Educational Engagement and Innovation award and the Outstanding Teaching and Research award.

Leanne Togher is honoured for outstanding research helping people with severe traumatic brain injury.

Annette Tredrea is recognised for her Outstanding Contribution to Research Excellence as trials officer at the university’s plant breeding institute.


The shortlists for the WA premier’s science awards are announced and the individual researcher category is a Curtin and UWA show. Of the state’s four public universities only Murdoch U has no nominees.

Scientist of the year: Phil Bland (Curtin U) planetary science, Peter Newman (Curtin U) sustainability, Robert Newton (Edith Cowan U) exercise medicine, Stephen Zubrick (UWA) methodology of child and youth health and development.

Early career scientist: Wensu Chen (Curtin U) lightweight composite structures, Adam Cross (Curtin U) restoration of mined areas, Haibo Jiang (UWA) cardiovascular disease, Katarina Milijkovic (Curtin U) planetary geoscience, Melissa O’Donnell (UWA) child abuse and neglect,

Student scientist: Lucy Furfaro (UWA) microbiology and obstetrics, Fernando Perez (UWA) energy transportation and processing, Claire Ross (UWA) coral geochemistry, Arman Siahvashi (UWA) natural gas process engineering, Ryan Urquhart (Curtin U) black holes.


The WA innovator of the year semi-finalists are also out. Nobel Prize Winner Barry Marshall and UWA colleagues are nominated for their Noisy Gut Project, which wants to use an acoustic belt to record and analyse gut noises, which correlate with disorders.


The University of Queensland has 40 new fellows of the (UK) Higher Education Academy “in recognition of their dedication to teaching and learning.” There are four new principal fellows, Paul Mills and Susan Rowland (Faculty of Science) Polly Parker (Faculty of Business, Economics and Law) and Christine Slade (Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation).