Headline of the day

If not the year

Secrets of a sex changing fish revealed,” is the red-top screamer on a media release from La Trobe U.  It’s a headline with everything, sex, mystery, fish. The story is serious science – apparently, a bunch of fish change sex in adulthood. No one knew why until PM’s science prize winner for 2017 Jenny Graves and NZ colleagues got on the case, or net.

There’s more in the Mail

Nicolette Lee (La Trobe U) warns our assumptions about higher education will be up-ended. It’s this week’s essay in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series on what we need now in learning and teaching.

No end to an ERA: why Excellence in Research for Australia stands-up to new findings

Tim Cahill explains why expert review keeps ERA state of art

 Dr Cahill worked on the creation of the metrics that are the basis of the Australian Research Council’s research assessments. In a new paper, reproduced in CMM, he looks at three big ideas in bibliometry, developed since ERA was created.

* short time-frames for research evaluation screens work which will be influential over time

* gender bias in peer-review impacts on citation metrics

* focus on peer review and citation metrics narrows what is researched

But such findings do not diminish the effectiveness of ERA, which includes expert evaluation and as such can be updated to address new findings; “The prominence of expert review means that such updates to our understanding can be easily incorporated into the approach. All that is required is that committee members be made aware of such nuances to the indicators, and take appropriate measures,” he writes.

The people speak at Federation U

They like the new workplace agreement

Learned readers advise Federation University staff have endorsed the management-union proposed enterprise agreement. Word is around a third of eligible staff turned out and backed the deal almost unanimously.

The deal appears in-line with other university agreements in this round. There is a $1750 increase in base salary, plus $250 lump sum added to base.  There are three annual pay-rises, 1.8 per cent next year, 1.9 per cent in May 2021 and 1.3 per cent in December that year.

The agreement now goes to the Fair Work Commission for approval.

Openly enthused about access

Publishing giant Springer asks who is excited about OA Week

“Who else is excited for Open Access Week 2019.  This year’s theme will be ‘Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge’ and we look forward to exploring these topics with the community,” publishing giant Springer’s, Open Access at Springer Nature advises, via Twitter.

Good research material for an article in the Journal of What Makes Horses Laugh (assuming it isn’t pay-walled).  While Springer does publish books OA the publisher, charges “an open access fee at the beginning of the publication process.” OA week is in October.

Innovative Research Us thinking about offshore

Leaders from the Innovative Research Universities group convene at member Charles Darwin U today for a three-day strategy session

The international market, and how to get more of it is, big on the agenda with discussions of new markets (Russia, Africa and Latin America are mentioned) and the possibility of a collective IRU recruitment presence in them.  The IRU is also interested in, “collective action to show effectiveness of international education outcomes to counter public and media concerns.”

The IRU also addresses how to best support internationals once they are here, including trends in digital student assistance. It is also interested in, “collective action to show effectiveness of international education outcomes to counter public and media concerns.” Maximising outbound mobility for IRU students under the government’s New Colombo Plan is also up for discussion.

The support of silence at UniSA

The University of South Australia was very pleased to announce last month that its new enterprise agreement was approved by 87 per cent of the poll (June 7).

And how many staff voted, CMM inquired. Not telling the university responded.

It isn’t only CMM who is curious, in the Fair Work Commission, Commissioner Platt was also interested when asked to approve the agreement and inquired about the turn-out. “I was satisfied that despite the low voter turnout (which also occurred in respect of the 2011 and 2014 Agreements) the Agreement was genuinely agreed, the commissioner decided last week. The deal was duly ticked.

It seems UniSA staff trust management and unions to look after them.

Summertime and the living is easier (for med researchers)

The NHMRC has new dates for grant applications –  they don’t make a mess of summer

“After receiving feedback from the sector” the National Health and Medical Research Council has made the summer an application free zone.

From next year, major grant applications will close in November, April or May.

The council appears to be responding less to feedback than a long-standing chorus of concern about people having to spend the holiday-season working on applicants, instead of mucking about with their kids.

Back in 2014 Danielle Herbert (then QUT) with colleagues from Monash and Flinders U surveyed researchers about grant deadlines, (CMM April 2 2014) and found;

“the process of preparing grant proposals for a single annual deadline is stressful, time consuming and conflicts with family responsibilities. The timing of the funding cycle could be shifted to minimise applicant burden, give Australian researchers more time to work on actual research and to be with their families.”

The Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes is certainly pleased with the change, telling CMM, “feedback from our members is that their pleased with the change, particularly as far fewer people will need to be working on grant applications during the Christmas/school holiday break. This was always particularly difficult for those with caring responsibilities. … The other important change that we’re pleased to see is that the schemes closing dates less clustered and bit more spread out.”

Great wins for Good Design

The 61st Good Design Awards (“the highest honour for design innovation”) are announced, including,

Gold award: to Victoria U for its new student app (CMM Friday)

Sustainability: to QUT and consultants Designworks for RangerBot, a vision-based underway system designed to work on coral reefs

Communication Design: to RMIT for commissioning Sans Forgetica, a typeface designed to encourage information retention

Indigenous designer: RMIT for its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander career pathways service


Appointments, achievements

Janelle Wheat starts work today as PVC learning and teaching at Charles Sturt U. She moves from UNSW, where she is deputy dean – education in the science faculty.

Michael Ondaatje is inaugural PVC arts and academic culture at Australian Catholic U. He moves from head of the National School of Arts at the university.

Laurie Pearcey is new CEO of UNSW Global, he continues as the university’s PVC. Global is the UNSW pathway provider.

Andre Brett (University of Wollongong) wins the Australian Historical Society’s Allan Martin award to assist early career historians with a research trip.

Australian unis: melting down into crisis

A new collection of essays on what’s wrong with universities is imminent

It’s edited by ANU economist and economic historian William Coleman, called Campus Meltdown: the deepening crisis in Australian universities and to be published by Conor Court.

CMM has not seen a copy but contributors are said to include former Macquarie U VC Steven Schwartz. NSW Solicitor General Michael Sexton, who writes on law schools and the campus free-speech debate.

CMM is especially waiting for for Gigi Foster (UNSW) on teaching quality and Ruth Williams (La Trobe U) on “the academic social welfare dysfunction” and John Lodewijks on what managerialism hath wrought.