Plus the ARC reveals all and the paper cited 300 000 times

Pluto page turner

Could you read a book on Pluto? The CSIRO posed the question yesterday in one of those science trivia promotions it does so well, or at least often. The answer, yes you could, leads to another question; why wouldn’t you just take your Kindle?

mindhive 2

ARC reveals all

CMM did not know the half of it when announcing (June 30) that the Australian Research Council has come over all information accessible. For a start, there is a new website coming that you do not need a degree in cryptography to crack, with its own user-guide on YouTube ready for release. It will also include an easily searchable site on grants, not just new ones but everything awarded, (as far as CMM can see), ever. The search function finds lead investigator, project identification number, administering organisation, project summary, total ARC funding awarded, commencement year and scheme. Yes this is long overdue, but in terms of making where research funding goes easily discovered the agency has arrived.

Aus unis multiranked

A reader reminds CMM that the L H Martin Institute and ACER have already benchmarked Australian universities by comparable groups, along the lines of U-Multirank (CMM July 2). The exercise is here – worth a look.

Money train

Inner city Sydney, where property is a civil religion, is much exercised by the route of a proposed underground rail line, and that includes University of Sydney management. The line is to run from Chatswood in the north, under the harbour, through the city and out to Bankstown in the inner southwest – adding to property values along the way. Possibly University of Sydney’s, but only possibly, because there are two options for the line south of the CBD.

The eastern route would include a stop at Meritonia (aka the suburb of Waterloo), where there is a vast amount of apartment development. The western one would have a station serving the UniSyd, in addition to the existing stop at Redfern, which is on all bar one Sydney rail lines.

The university is urging alumni to lobby for the western station and understandably so.

But if Uni Sydney thinks it is such a great idea why not offer to kick the tin? Like the other Group of Eight institutions, U Sydney enjoys the benefits of 100 plus years of public infrastructure investment and there is certainly a case to make for it giving something back, especially when it would be more an investment in the future than a payment for the past. The offer would also make it impossible for the University of New South Wales to avoid offering a few quid, quite a few quid, as a contribution to the new tram route, which will connect its Kensington campus to the rail network by the end of the decade. And then there is the planned light rail, which will expand access to the University of Western Sydney’s Parramatta CBD development. Perhaps the state government could take the mortarboard around.

ANU June 4

Terrific TAFE

Finalists are announced in this year’s Victorian Training Awards and while there are registered training organisations among the nominated institutions, overall TAFE will have a great prize night. Do for-profits not participate?

Fate is sealed

Deakin University researchers say work in Bass Strait shows the Australian Fur Seal population is only increasing by 2 per cent per annum and their number is still less than half what it was before commercial sealing started two centuries back. But it seems a different story in South Australia, where there are calls to cull fur seals in the Coorong and Murray Lakes. Apparently they are eating the fish, mutilating the pelicans and becoming way too numerous for locals’ liking. Michael Owen and Tiarne Cook had the yarn in The Australian yesterday, with the ABC following (including a quote from an SA politician who said he was certainly not calling for a seal cull by clubbing!) The two seal populations appear to be the same species so CMM has no clue what is going on, but guess which story is getting more coverage.

ERA experts

The Australian Research Council announced yesterday three new appointments to research evaluation committees for ERA 15; Tim Murray (archaeology, La Trobe), Ross McKinnon (medicine, Flinders) and Doug Macfarlane (chemistry, Monash). And just in time too. ERA submissions are all in with RECs about to start work. Excellence for Research in Australia 2015 is due in December.

Top of protein pops

One of today’s hours-of-fun-with-citations stories comes from Nature, which reports on most cited papers. Apparently the perennial prodigious performers are in protein biochemistry with the all time top spot held by the O H Lowry et al 1951 classic, “Protein measurement with the folin phenol reagent,” cited no less than 305 000 times. This is seriously impressive, given a mere 12 000 citations gets a paper into the top 100.

CEF June 15 2

And the winner is (yet again) Melbourne

Thomson Reuters has honoured top cited scholars in Australia, who come from all over the place. But as usual the winner is Melbourne. Yes, the University of Melbourne leads with ten authors out of 44. This is an even rougher measure of achievement than the rankings, what with the way articles have multiple authors. Still, whatever you count, Melbourne is just about always on top. The other 34 authors come from 15 institutions.