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World-class research rates at JCU

JCU's research has been rated world class or better in 33 of the specific fields of research in which it has been awarded a rating by the Australian Government’s Excellence in Research for Australia process.

Dec 6, 2012: - James Cook University’s research output has been rated world class or better in 33 of the specific fields of research in which it has been awarded a rating by the Australian Government’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) process.

It is the second comprehensive review of research at Australian universities. The first was released at the beginning of 2011 and rated JCU’s research as world class in 23 categories.

In its publication today ERA listed 14 of the specific areas of research by JCU academics as above world standard while three of those – ecological applications, environmental science and management, and medical microbiology – were “well above world standard”, the highest possible rating.

The other 11 areas above world standard were inorganic chemistry, geochemistry, geology, physical geography and environmental geoscience, ecology, fisheries science, veterinary sciences, materials engineering, immunology, neurosciences, and tourism.

In the broad fields of research, JCU was the only university in Queensland to receive the “well above world standard” rating for environmental sciences.

Among the other broad fields, agricultural and veterinary sciences was lifted to the above world standard category joining earth sciences and biological sciences.

Another seven of the broad fields of research achieved the world standard rating:

  • mathematical sciences

  • physical sciences

  • engineering

  • law and legal studies

  • language, communication and culture

  • history and archaeology

  • chemical sciences

JCU’s Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Chris Cocklin said that it was particularly pleasing that medical microbiology research, which is largely based in Cairns, immunology and neurosciences had been graded so high.

“We have been actively fostering research in the medical and health areas including recruiting world class academics to JCU,” Professor Cocklin, who also heads the University’s Division of Research and Innovation, said.

He said that the University four years ago had embarked on an ambitious program of recruitment of world leaders in a number of fields including medicine and health.

“We have been investing in areas of research to extend JCU’s capabilities in research and research training in fields of vital importance to the tropics in Australia and worldwide and these latest gradings are evidence of that program’s success.”

He said that it was worth noting that not only were all four of the University’s faculties conducting research at world standard or above but also that it was being carried out from both of the University’s principal Australian campuses in Cairns and Townsville.

Since the first assessment in 2010, JCU has improved its rating in six of the broad fields of research with five reaching world standard or better. In the specific fields of research 12 areas lifted their rating.

There were a number of new fields listed this year including medical microbiology which achieved the top rating, and applied mathematics, interdisciplinary engineering, cardiovascular medicine and haematology, and archaeology which were recorded at world standard.

“While it is encouraging that a lot of our research was regarded as at world standard or above, there is plenty of room for improvement going forward,” Professor Cocklin said.

ERA is an assessment system that evaluates the quality of the research conducted at Australian universities by discipline. It identifies the research strengths of individual universities and of the sector as a whole.

It also highlights disciplines where there are opportunities to develop the research capacities of Australian universities.

All universities submit comprehensive information to the Australian Research Council about their research activities, including details relating to staff, publications and other research outputs, awards, grants, income from industry and other research users, income from the commercialisation of research, and other applied measures such as patents.

Committees of internationally recognised researchers evaluate this material by discipline. Their expert judgments are informed by a range of summary indicators and quality assessments derived from the data submitted.

The evaluation committees award each research active discipline at each university a rating on a five-point scale, where ‘three’ is world standard and ‘five’ is the highest rating.

ERA outcomes inform the performance-based block funding that universities receive to sustain excellence in research and are also included in the Mission-Based Compacts negotiated between the Australian Government and universities.

ERA results have been incorporated into the Australian Government’s MyUniversity website, to assist our future researchers to identify postgraduate opportunities.

Contact: Professor Chris Cocklin 07 4781 6884, 0427 765470

JCU Media: Jim O’Brien 07 4781 4822 or 0418 892449

Issued: December 6, 2012