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Sociologists, Research Impact and the ERA

The Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative is managed by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and was implemented in 2010. The ERA assesses research quality within Australia’s higher education institutions using a combination of indicators and expert review by committees comprising experienced, internationally-recognised experts. Sociology was assessed as part of Cluster Four: Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences (SBE). The last ERA round was in 2012. The next round is in 2015. Further information is available here.


  1. Paul Henman, Scott D Brown & Simon Dennis (2017). When rating systems do not rate: Evaluating ERA’s performance. Australian University Review, Volume 59, Number 1
  2. National Tertiary Education Union document on the Impact of ERA Research Assessment on University Behaviour and their Staff
  3. LSE Public Policy Group’s Maximizing the Impacts of Your Research: A Handbook for Social Scientists

ERA 2012 round

ERA 2012 – The outcomes for Sociology

The release of the ERA results today shows that the discipline of Sociology as a whole has done better than the last round but we still have quite a way to go to be well regarded relative to other disciplines. Sociology (code 1608) received an average national rating of 2.9 out of 5 (up from 2.4 last time). The benchmark set by the ARC was 3 so we have achieved a pass grade this time, which is a relief. The average score for social science disciplines (3) remains lower than many other discipline groupings so we are not alone at scoring ourselves harshly.

The ERA reports again point to the health of our discipline but also to some attrition since the last ERA round. Sociology is substantial – we are present at most universities with 29 institutions assessed in the ERA. With 457 FTE staff members we were the second largest social science discipline assessed following politics with 491 staff. We submitted more publications (4,591) for the 2012 round and generated more research income ($70,964,733) too. Again the Sandstones did relatively well while the Regional Universities struggled. Congratulations to colleagues at ANU, Melbourne, UNSW, UQ and Sydney for gaining a 4! Sadly no universities received a score of 5 for Sociology this round, which is something we need to work on.

We must continue to act strategically, politically and effectively to raise the profile of our discipline within individual universities and higher education as a whole and TASA is committed to facilitating and supporting you in this.

We now want to open a discussion on the website and in Nexus about the 2012 ERA and what it means for us as a diverse discipline and how we can best act collectively in the future – don’t be shy to submit your constructive opinion (see ERA Discussion Forum details below).

The ERA outcomes are available at

A/Prof Jo Lindsay
Vice President of TASA

ERA Discussion Forum – closed

Deborah Lupton- 7/12/2012
In relation to Jo Lindsay suggesting that Australian sociology needs to improve its public profile, then of course I would suggest the use of social media by sociologists here. Sociologists need to be trained in how to engage with the public and the news media using social media. One suggestion is the idea of a multi-authored blog administered by TASA, where many people can contribute and it would therefore be not too onerous on one person. (It can also re-blog posts by people like me who already have a blog.) This would be a great way to get out our ideas and research findings in an accessible way and contribute positively to our public profile.