Science Magazine

Demise of the Australian ERA Journal Rankings

Posted on the 03 June 2011 by Bradshaw @conservbytes

Demise of the Australian ERA journal rankingsEarlier this week Australian Senator Kim Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) announced the removal of the somewhat controversial ERA rankings for scientific journals.

Early last year I posted about the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) journal rankings for ecology and conservation journals. To remind you, the ERA has ranked > 20,000 unique peer-reviewed journals, with each given a single quality rating – and they are careful to say that “A journal’s quality rating represents the overall quality of the journal. This is defined in terms of how it compares with other journals and should not be confused with its relevance or importance to a particular discipline.”.

Now, after much to-ing and fro-ing about what the four rankings actually mean (A*, A, B & C), Senator Carr has announced that he’s dumping them under the advice of the Australian Research Council.

Seems like a lot of wasted effort, but I’m sure most would agree that no type of ranking system is perfect. But one is necessary, no matter which way you slice it. Currently, the standard benchmark of a journal’s ‘quality’ is measured by the ISI Impact Factor – a highly controversial and somewhat simplistic measurement that relates to the ‘average’ citation rate of papers within. What I liked about the ERA rankings was that it seemed to do a pretty good job of ranking the journals within a particular discipline.

For example, a common lament among marine scientists is that marine science journals tend to be poorly ranked according to citations (e.g., Impact Factors), yet there are clearly ‘high-impact’ and ‘low-impact’ journals within that discipline. It was interesting to note that one such journal in which my students and I often publish – Marine Ecology Progress Series – received an ERA ‘A’ ranking, which as far as I’m concerned, was a fair assessment of that journal’s ‘internal’ reputation. I’m sure there are many, many other examples within other disciplines.

So for me it was a way of vindicating some publication trends within particular disciplines. Despite any ranking system’s limitations, I felt ERA ranking roughly emulated my impression of journal quality and impact – something Impact Factors only do partially (if at all). Therefore, I have to admit I’m disappointed they’ve been dumped.

Saying that, it’ll be interesting to see how they will be replaced. I know that the ERA assessments of university quality were more or less based entirely on citation data, so I dare say any new iteration will be citation-based as well. Back to Impact Factors, I guess.

CJA Bradshaw

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • The End of an Era?


    This is the season of captains bidding adieu. On March 23rd, we heard Cricket Australia denied any chances of the controversial Aussie captain Ricky Ponting's... Read more

    By  Jimmymycrushie
  • Results Roundup: Australian Open

    Results Roundup: Australian Open

    In not-so-shocking 4th round news... Federer defeats Robredo 6–3, 3–6, 6–3, 6–2 Berdych defeats Verdasco 6–4, 6–2, 6–3 (although I would say the straight sets,... Read more

    By  Ash Dwight
  • Australian Open: Day 7 Order of Play

    Australian Open: Order Play

    Caroline Wozniacki Matches to watch on Day 7 of the Australian Open Rod Laver Arena 11:00 AM start (7:00 PM start in Toronto/New York City) Wozniacki vs.... Read more

    By  Ash Dwight
  • Australian Open Day 3: Federer Interview

    Roger Federer defeats Gilles Simon in a close five setter Q. You warned us two days ago it was going to be close and it was going to be tough. Did you really... Read more

    By  Ash Dwight
  • Raonic into Australian Open Third Round

    Raonic into Australian Open Third Round

    Canadian Milos Raonic defeated the No. 22 seed Michael Llodra of France last night in a big upset at the Australian Open. Raonic is 20 years old and currently... Read more

    By  Ash Dwight
  • Australian Grand Prix

    Australian Grand Prix

    Vettel wins season opener in Melbourne (updated) Vettel celebrating his victory at the Australian Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel's victory was not difficult to... Read more

    By  Franz Burgmann
  • End of an Era

    After 28 years and 4 months, it’s time to call it a day and I’m retiring as a partner in Latimer Hinks. I’ve always been sceptical about those who withdraw... Read more

    By  Judithmiddleton