Stop publishing your research!

Interesting news and stories about research evaluation and higher education policy.

Stop publishing your research!

Postby mgcrisp » Tue Feb 09, 2016 7:47 pm

The 'Watt review' - or the Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements has broken the link between publications and funding. Since the mid 1990s publications have informed a competent of the research block grants for universities. In 2010 ERA provided an additional avenue for publications to inform block funding allocations. The Watt review has recommended that publications be removed from the Higher Education Data Collection (HERDC) and recommended the removal of the Sustainable Research Excellence (SRE) fund from the block grant. These recommendations mean that universities will no longer receive block funding based on publications.

When publications were introduced to the block grant allocations there was a rapid increase in the volume of publications produced - however, the quality of those publications was low - in other words the quantity went up but the quality didn't. ERA introduced a quality component to the block grant allocation, albeit a modest allocation, which saw an increase in journal article output (compared with conferences and book) and an increase in articles in 'A*' and 'A' ranked journals.

So it seems that publication behaviour changes as the policy and incentives change. It will be interesting to see what impact this newest change has on publication behaviour. Should universities tell their academics to stop publishing? Well, probably not - there are many good reasons to keep publishing, not least of which is that researchers tend to like publishing and it is still a powerful way to disseminate knew knowledge. Besides this though there are a number of other reasons - promotions and recruitments are often influenced by publication record, grant success and university rankings are also linked to publication output.

So maybe don't stop publishing just yet. But watch this space to see what happens to publishing across Australian universities.
Michael G. Crisp

Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.
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