12th March 2010: The Gentle Art of ERA Self-Defence

Generating a range of different grant and funding ideas for a client’s ‘program of research’.

Tony Boyd in today’s Australian Financial Review (‘How Myer float sprang a leak’, p. 64):

The joint managers of the Myer IPO, Goldman Sachs JBWere, Macquarie Group and Credit Suisse, did a masterful job in locking up just about every broker in Australia.

Were there no ‘contrarian’ views or Monte Carlo testing of Myer’s post-IPO valuation price?

From an email to Edred.net’s host Waldo Thompson:

To me, the Polarian Method also provides guidance on how and when to
use different types of data (objective universe ‘facts’; subjective
universe ‘framing’ and sense-making), and how they differ. I see some
similarities with action research models of Donald Schon and Chris

who include a subjective learning loop. It would be interesting
to disseminate Edred’s framework into the wider research community, to
improve the quality of research design and training. Radio Free Runa
lecture #26 on the Polarian Method is a good start.

Spotted during coffee: 21C alumnus editor Ray Edgar interviews Alien, Blade Runner and Tron and  designer Syd Mead.

From a Facebook reply to Anna Poletti, of This Is Not Art and zines on an ERA post:

AMLE Journal (Academy of Management Learning & Education, A*) had a paper critical of the US experience.

have seen the ‘research excellence’ debate from several viewpoints: on
the preparation team for a university-wide audit, and in a research
support role. ARC’s ERA GM, Leanne Harvey, says that there is a lot of
confusion: they did not design ERA to be a pure performance management
exercise, nor to prevent people from disseminating work in the field’s
perspective. In part, it is being driven by US and UK schemes, by
international standards bodies like AACSB and EFMD, and by
administrators who have had conflicting information, do not understand
research cultures, or who have tried to apply private sector models of
performance management in an inappropriate way. This can be a variant
on GE’s Jack Welch, whose ’20-70-10′ system which fires the 10% lowest
performers per year, or in the case of universities, casualises them as
sessional staff with no research time or support.

Some counterarguments you might make:

As your PhD was granted in 2006, you are still an Early Career
Researcher (ECR). Have a 3-to-5 year ‘program of research’ with
multiple projects, articles, collaborations, and grant and funding
sources (Category 1 apart from ARC, Category 2 and 3, foundations, and
philanthropic organisations). You have used the ECR time to build your
reputation in the field, your publications track record (articles and
the MUP 2008 book of your thesis), and to develop international
collaborations. Biography is C-ranked, Auto/Biography is A-ranked. All
this is necessary groundwork for external, competitive grant
applications that will be feasible, realistic, and have a higher
probability of funding success. You recognise that this preparatory
work is necessary in the ECR phase, in order to stand out with your
international colleagues, against other competitive research teams.

Some administrators may misunderstand some aspects of what the ARC wanted
ERA to do. Harvey said that not all subdisciplines have A* or A-level
journals: nursing is one applied discipline where most journals are ERA
C-ranked. ERA wants people to publish in the most appropriate journals
for the field (although, ARC assessors still prioritise A* and A-level
publications in competitive grants). She said ERA does not have an
equivalent to DEST’s book register: this was considered and abandoned
because of the ‘influential small press’ issue you raise. ERA was not
designed for performance management; and a ‘research active’ status
should include other factors (e.g. teaching load, Masters and PhD
supervision, competitive grants, publications).

3. Harvey said
that Field of Research (FoR) codes are just as important as letter
rankings. An individual journal article can have up to 3 FoR codes. For
you, I’m presuming the relevant FoR codes may include: 1903 (Journalism
& Writing), 2005 (Literary Studies), and 2103 (Historical Studies).
Keyword/title searches and FoR codes will now allow you to ‘screen’ the
ERA list to hone the appropriate ‘target’ journals for your research.
You may find there are journals outside this, such as in anthropology
and sociology, that may accept articles with an auto/biographical
methodology in the research design.

4. You are building a
international team with a demonstrable track record of collaborations,
and with the level of specificity in methodology and research design.
This is a talent development and management model.

5. The notion
of ‘research excellence’ or ‘innovation’ — as ‘quality’ rather than
‘quantity’ — needs to be contextualised as a strategy, and preferably
tailored to each individual research at the School level. Suggest they
read Scott Berkun’s book The Myths of Innovation (O’Reilly, 2007).

Look at a process like David Allen’s GTD or Berkun’s book Making
Things Happen
(O’Reilly 2009; first edition published as The Art of
Project Management
) that allows you to capture this stuff in an
efficient manner, and that doesn’t create an ‘administrative burden’.
You might frame it around HERDC annual data collection or the annual
performance review, or the ‘research active’ policy and procedure.

Hope this helps, and good luck — you have inspired and supported a lot of other people.

PS. Additionally, I see Southern Review is A-ranked and has an FoR code of
1608 (Sociology). Canadian Review of American Studies is B-ranked. So,
you could also argue that you are ‘targeting’ higher ranked ERA
journals. Use Scopus and Web of Science for citations/impact factors
— they have gaps in humanities coverage. To my knowledge, ARC
assessors do not yet regard Google Scholar as sufficient enough for
citations/impact factors in academic publication records.

Rosie and I enjoyed Tarnation very much, nice work on the journal article.