ERA results for mathematical sciences in Australia

The 2010 ERA (Excellence in Research Australia) results were released by the ARC on 31 January 2011. Comprehensive reports are available from the ARC ERA 2010 webpage.

Forty-one tertiary institutions submitted research outputs to be evaluated. Out of these, 17 did not receive an assessment in the mathematical sciences. This means that these 17 institutions did not have enough research publications in mathematical sciences in the six-year reference period to meet the ERA minimum threshold. What is this threshold? It is a minimum of 50 research outputs (or 30 outputs in the case of pure mathematics) in the reference period: 01 January 2003 – 31 December 2008.

To understand this a little more, consider a fictional mathematics department with ten research active staff members publishing one paper each per year in a mathematical journal. This department would have 60 research outputs over the reference period and so would receive an ERA assessment. The reality in Australia is that many tertiary institutions do not have such numbers of mathematically active staff.

The evaluations were carried out within bins called Field of Research (FoR) Codes. The 2-digit FoR code 01 represents mathematical sciences as a whole, within which 4-digit FoR codes represent pure mathematics 0101, applied mathematics 0102, numerical and computational mathematics 0103, statistics 0104, mathematical physics 0105 and other mathematical sciences 0199.

The FoR-based system complicates conclusions because many mathematicians may publish in journals that are codified to other fields (e.g., bioinformaticians may publish in medical and biological journals), while many scientists who do not see themselves as mathematicians may publish in journals codified to mathematics (e.g., engineers may have published in applied mathematical journals).

In addition to the 17 institutions mentioned above, 1 received an assessment at the most macroscopic 2-digit mathematics FoR code, i.e., 01, with no assessment in any four-digit mathematics FoR code. An additional 5 institutions received an assessment in only one of the four-digit mathematical FoR codes along with an assessment at the two-digit FoR level. Only 12 institutions over all received an assessment in the FoR code 0104 (statistics).

The ARC is hurrying onto the next round of ERA assessments. ERA2012 will assess the output of staff counted on the census date 31 March 2011, whose output appeared in the reference period 1 January 2005 – 31 December 2010.

Aussie mathematician blogs

On the blogroll on the left of this blog, we’ve recently added a category for blogs by mathematicians either in Australia, or otherwise affiliated with Australia: Alasdair McAndrew, the AustMS blog, Daniel Murfet, Danny Calegari, SymOmega, and myself.  If any of the readers here know of other blogs by Aussie-affiliated mathematicians (or any other relevant links for the other categories on the blogroll), please let me know so that I can add to the list further!


Welcome to “Mathematics in Australia”! The purpose of this site is to provide a forum to discuss various current issues relating to mathematical research and education (particularly at the tertiary level) in Australia, as well as a repository for news, links, announcements, and reports on these topics and related items (e.g. mathematical conference or job announcements in Australia). All comments, contributions, and corrections are welcome.

There will be several contributors and editors from the Australian mathematics community for this blog in the near future, but at present I am the primary administrator. If you wish to contribute one or more posts here, or if you just have some news, announcements, or other information on mathematics in Australia to share, please don’t hesitate to contact me about it.