What fun

The “got to get out more” award for January goes to Innovative Research Universities ED Conor King for, “the delight of a summer break is to return to a suite of discussion papers.” Via Twitter yesterday.

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.”

Chemistry is right

The Academy of Science advises 2019 is “the international year of the periodic table of chemical elements.” Yes, UNESCO has ordained it.

Swinburne’s Subic to head manufacturing innovation project

Back when Malcolm Turnbull was enthusiastic about innovation, the government announced industry 4.0 testlabs pilot programme to investigate “transformative technologies to connect the physical world with the digital world.”

Techno Turnbull is gone, but the programme lingers on, with the government very quietly announcing over the summer the four universities to run testlabs. Swinburne’s U Alexsandar Subic leads the project which includes, Swinburne U, U of Q, UTS, Uni SA, UWA and UTS. The labs are for, “businesses and researchers … to trial, explore and showcase Industry 4.0 technologies and processes.”

As Professor Subic told CMM last year, engagement in applied research is about “industry interacting, engaging, and talking with our staff, with our teams and with our students. It is through these interactions we can develop a common language and deeper understanding of both perspectives” (CMM May 22).

At least four of the participants are already involved with German manufacturing giant Siemens, which has donated $1bn in industrial software to Swinburne, UWA, UniSA and UoQ.

Olympians of sport injury

Edith Cowan and LaTrobe universities are the Australian members of the International Olympics Committee medical research network on sports injury and illness.


Appointments: Leinonen is new IRU chair

Murdoch U VC Eeva Leinonen is new chair of the Innovative Research Universities lobby, replacing Flinders’ Colin Stirling. The chair rotates among IRU members.

Clare McLaughlin is the new general manager of the National Health and Medical Research Council. She moves from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science where she was GM, science agencies governance. Ms McLaughlin replaces Tony Willis who moved to the Australian Research Council to be GM.

ANU’s Lyndall Strazdins is the new director of the university’s Research School of Population Health.

Michael Adams has started as dean of law at the University of New England. He stepped down as dean of the Western Sydney U law school last May, staying as a professor of corporate law (CMM May 25 2017).

HE policy (but not grizzled) veteran Andrew Dempster has joined KPMG in Canberra. Mr Dempster was a staffer with former Labor education minister Chris Evans and an advisor to Swinburne VC Linda Kristjanson. He moves from his own practise, Proofpoint Advisory.  Canberra Andrew Dempster is not to be confused with Melbourne Andrew Dempster, who leads KPMG’s mental health advisory practice.