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Accounting for quality in Australia’s research assessment exercise
This paper explores the evolution and the role accounting for quality plays in the academic journal articles submitted to Australia’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) assessment exercise. It tracks the progress from quantitative to qualitative assessment within the Australian higher education sector from 1970 leading up to the implementation of a formal research assessment exercise in 2010, and its subsequent iterations in 2012, 2015, and 2018. Although only a part of the ERA submissions, the listing of published research outputs provides the primary evidence for research quality to most ERA panels, and is a significant driver of the final rating awarded. The developing role of journal publications as a vehicle for academic research output is examined via a chronology of the ERA, before assessing the current situation in which published journal output formed almost 70% of all output assessed by the ERA panels in the 2015 exercise.