NON TRADITIONAL RESEARCH OUTPUTS
ERA ELIGIBILITY AND QUALITY IN THE CREATIVE ARTS
Definition/Description of a Research Portfolio
A Research Portfolio isa major ERA eligible output (Q1, Original creative work; R1,Live performance of creative work; S1, Recorded/ rendered creative work or; T1, Curated or produced substantial public exhibition/event), which is made up of a collection of closely related minor research outputs (Q2’s, R2’s, S2’s, or T2’s ) that would not individually constitute a significant research contribution but collectively make up a coherent synthesis around a single research theme, topic, question, or problem.
The most recent ARC definition of a portfolio is:
A portfolio is a collection of individual items that are derived from the same underlying research endeavour but do not in themselves constitute a research output. The portfolio must be able to demonstrate coherent research content. In addition, the individual items should be related in a way so that the resulting portfolio constitutes research. For such items, institutions must identify the relationship using a portfolio name and portfolio number. Portfolios are only eligible to be submitted within fields of research which are flagged with “other NTRO”
(see the ERA 2015 Discipline Matrix). [ARC, ERA 2015 Submission Guidelines, p. 45.]
[we would not expect radical change in the definition for future ERA exercises]
From the first iteration of the ERA, QCA,Griffith, has made a rigorous interpretation of the ARC’s definition of a portfolio. To avoid any confusion or potentially ineligible ERA submissions, Griffith interprets theARC statement “Individual items that are derived from the same underlying research endeavour but do not in themselves constitute research” to exclude professional practice outputs and any outputs that could not stand alone as a singular, although minor, research output. In other words, the only differentiation between minor and major non-traditional research outputs atGriffith is the scope, extent, or significance of that research output.Outputs that do not of themselves qualify as research endeavour cannot be included in a portfolio.Griffith does have a third category—Q3, R3, S3,and T3 (see Part 2 Section Two)—available on the “My Pubs” portal to record professional practice and separately capture these outputs.
The minor outputs that make up theResearch Portfolio must each contain original elements that are not duplicated elsewhere in the portfolio. The same animation, photograph, painting or other output, that is shown as the creator’s single inclusion in three or four different group exhibitions may be counted only once, and a portfolio could not be constructed in such a case. However, if in each exhibition the same output was accompanied by new related work the portfolio could be constructed but the duplicate or repeated output could be counted only once in the total count of items that makes up the portfolio.
The chronological scope of the portfolio should be limited to outputs produced over a maximum four-year period, which is at present calculated as the current year plus the preceding three years. This is because to be eligible for inclusion in theERA, non-traditional research outputs must have been made available publicly during the research outputs reference period.When the next reference period for the ERA is announced, the maximum four-year span will count back from the last year of the reference period. The shorter the range of a portfolio, preferably two years, the longer the period of eligibility of that output for inclusion in subsequent ERA exercises.
Apart from the important imperative of the ERA exercise, there is the more immediate motivation for staff to promptly convert minor research outputs into a portfolio so they can be then counted toward their research active status. Just as all Q2, R2, S2, and T2 outputs are not included in the ERA submission data, they do not count towards the measure of research active status until they are assembled into a portfolio as a Q1, R1, S1, or T1.
Once the portfolio is entered on the portal with all documentation, and verified by the Dean of Research, the item counts as one research point, or one output, regardless of the number of minor outputs that make up the portfolio. It is possible to make up a portfolio from two outputs only, and indeed this would be advisable in those cases where both research outputs are substantial but some aspect of one publication (e.g., the venue, editorial quality, or peer-review status) raises doubts about its significance. An example might be a major work selected in the prestigious Blake Prize Exhibition in a particular year when the selection panel is made up of a number of celebrities and chaired by an eminent bishop with little knowledge of art. It would be prudent, if not essential, to have this exhibition of work entered as a Q2_1, and, if the research theme is appropriate, to make up a Q1_1 portfolio by combining this with another substantial Q2_1 group exhibition where the curatorial selection is unequivocally informed.
It is strategically important, both at the individual and institutional level, to privilege quality over quantity when recording creative outputs. Two or three solid related creative research outputs submitted in combination as a single research enterprise in portfolio form concentrates their value and impact when subjected to any peer-review process.
Although there is no stated maximum to the number of minor works contained in a portfolio, eight is recommended as an upper limit.
Importantly, the minor outputs that make up the portfolio must each be entered and verified before the portfolio can be constructed.