Research Systems and Reporting Team win staff award

Published: Monday 22nd August 2016

Photo of Research Systems and Reporting Team

Photo (L to R): Michael Murphy (Manager Research Reporting), Rod Lewis (Senior Manager Research Systems & Reporting), Matt Dixon (Research Systems Analyst), John Montalto (Senior Research Support Officer)

Research Systems and Reporting Team has won the Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Excellence Award for Research Excellence for designing, developing and delivering a successful Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) Management System (EMS) that allowed ACU to strategically shape its hugely successful 2015 ERA submission.

The system supported discipline champions to make informed decisions concerning ERA data, thereby ensuring Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) research strengths were highlighted.
The EMS played a pivotal role in helping ACU transition from an 'emerging' research institution to a research intensive university and did so in a way that matters most to our research reputation - via the allocation of top level ERA scores.

Using the EMS, we were able to strategically determine the profile of our ERA submission in way that best reflected our research strengths resulting in ERA scores of 4 (Above world standard) and 5 (Well above world standard) in several disciplines.

These ERA scores reflect ACU's mission with scores of 4 and 5 in disciplines within Health, Psychology, Education, Philosophy and Religion and Religious Studies.

Prior to the Research Intensification Framework and the use of an ERA Management System, ACU had been unable to achieve such strong ERA outcomes.

EMS contributes indirectly to ACU's economic success by ensuring we maximise our ERA scores, which are used to determine research block grant funding. The ERA scores showcase ACU's contribution to research that has benefit to the wider society.

Without the EMS it would have been almost impossible to assess the data being used for ACU's ERA submission in such a meaningful and strategic way. Supported by this tool, ACU was able to achieve outstanding ERA results.

The value-add of the EMS can be seen through its ability to strategically present ACU’s research strengths. For example, in ERA 2015, the Faculty of Law and Business arrived at an unprecedented 'World standard' ERA quality rating for both of the Faculty's discipline domains - a result which would have been most difficult to accomplish without the support of the EMS.

The Research Systems and Reporting Team included the Senior Manager, Mr Rod Lewis, Mr Michael Murphy, Manager, Research Reporting, Mr Matt Dixon, Research Systems Analyst, Ms Stefania Riccardi, Research Project Co-ordinator, and Mr John Montalto, Senior Research Systems Support Officer.


In 2012 ACU's ERA submission was compiled manually with the aid of spreadsheets. A challenge for the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research (ODVCR), beginning 2013 was the construction of an electronic interface to support future ERA submissions and the strategic placement of research outputs.

The reporting and systems team have done a tremendous job in providing ODVCR with the means to submit a comprehensive and well thought-through ERA submission.
Having the electronic EMS in 2015 enabled the ODVCR to not only place items accurately, but it also allowed us to immediately gauge the effects on quality of placing items in particular categories of importance to the university's Mission.

In particular, the tool also provides important metrics such that it was immediately apparent what effect the placement and movement of research outputs had on a discipline's profile.
Additionally, we had significantly more outputs to submit in 2015 compared to 2012, and this was very easily facilitated by having EMS. Spreadsheets certainly would not have worked.

Two factors underpinned ACU's excellent ERA results in 2015: The DVCR's strategy, which was strongly supported by the electronic EMS.