I was pleased to contribute to this collective response to the ministerial intervention into 2018’s Australian Research Council grants. My bit below; published in the November issue of the Australian Book Review:
“In the ongoing furore around revelations of ministerial research grant vetoes, two things are in danger of slipping from view. One is that the vetoes always and only target the humanities. The other is that the government is now gaslighting the public about what went on. In the ludicrous debate about pub tests, no one holds up non-humanities titles for scrutiny. A random search for recently funded STEM grants turns up ‘Noncommutative geometry in representation theory and quantum physics’, ‘Structure-activity relationships in silicon-based photovoltaics through atomic scale microscopy’, and ‘Multi-person stochastic games with idiosyncratic information flows’. I do not know what any of these mean. But that is the point. I need experts to tell me what they are about, why they should be funded, and what they could do for knowledge, humanity, or the planet. If they got funded by the ARC, I trust that they are worthy because I know they were scrutinised by around ten people at the university level before even being submitted, and that they were then reviewed by two to six anonymous peers before passing an analysis by a College of internationally recognised scholars. The government needs to explain its methodology and objective in applying one test for some and a second for others.
Minister Tehan recently claimed to adjust the rules for future ARC grants in order to ‘improve the public’s confidence’ in the grant system. His predecessor, however, gave no evidence of feeling pressure from the public and vetoed titles that had not been seen by the public. After such a flagrant dismissal of expert advice, it is the ministry that needs to regain our confidence.”
Read others HERE.