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PBRF review provides opportunity to fix problems

Association of University Staff

Media Release

Attn Education Reporter 2 March 2008

PBRF review provides major opportunity to fix problems, say university staff

The Association of University Staff (AUS) has welcomed a review of the Performance-Based Research Fund, currently being undertaken by international expert and involving extensive consultation across the tertiary education sector, saying that it is an excellent opportunity to put right major flaws in the PBRF's operation

The review of the PBRF, being carried out by Dr Jonathan Adams from the United Kingdom, is intended to examine the PBRF process and, in particular, the experience of staff involved in preparing evidence portfolios on which research performance assessments are made. The PBRF provides $230 million annually in research funding

AUS National President, Associate Professor Maureen Montgomery, said the review would look at problems that had arisen with the PBRF and how they might best be resolved. She said that current assessment and reporting models used for the PBRF are inappropriate, and the improper use of individual PBRF ratings in staff performance appraisals not only creates anger and disillusionment among academic staff, but also compromises the integrity of staff development procedures already in place.

“AUS has always rejected the individual unit of assessment as the basis for the PBRF model and, equally, has consistently opposed the reporting of results at that individual level,” said Associate Professor Montgomery. “Such is the depth of feeling about these flaws that the possibility of a boycott of future rounds of the PBRF by union members was raised at the recent AUS Annual Conference.”

The AUS will also be offering the reviewer alternative models for assisting with the distribution of PBRF funding. These will not include a so-called metrics-based measurement system that uses citation indices and impact analyses.

Associate Professor Montgomery also said that the AUS would also bring to the attention of the review the movement away from PBRF-style models internationally.


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