|AJET 26||AJET Home||AJET
The pursuit of knowledge is far more important than even knowledge itself. It involves discipline and training, which in turn are moulders of character. That is why the Labour movement has always striven, even passionately, for educative opportunities for all. (John Curtin, 1932) There is a good reason for turning to John Curtin's words about "The pursuit of knowledge ...", written over seventy-five years ago. Curtin's words indicate very elegantly a direction that scholarly journals and professional societies may emphasise in response to the Australian Research Council's "ERA" (Excellence in Research for Australia) "initiative" , a matter that has been an AJET concern for some time . In essence (or, at least, in this humble opinion), the ERA "initiative" has narrowed the ARC's focus: it is concentrating upon knowledge, and losing sight of the bigger picture or prerequisite represented by the phrase pursuit of knowledge. Scholarly journals and professional societies have a great interest in the pursuit half of this phrase, and the keywords that John Curtin nominated, discipline and training (though most of us would prefer to expand training into numerous other, somewhat longer phrases such as lifelong learning, continuing professional education, postgraduate research, MBA, MEd, PhD, etc). It does not matter whether Curtin was referring to school children, or undergraduates, or apprentices, or mid-career workers, or in our case, aspiring authors, the fundamental implications of the pursuit (or possibly the continuing pursuit) are much the same for all. In particular, the pursuit is often or perhaps nearly always dependent upon facilitators - parents, teachers, lecturers, etc, or in our case, reviewers and editors.
Journal reviewers and editors are expected to do far more than a simple 'ticking of a box' to indicate acceptance or rejection. Most or even all journals emphasise the importance of good formative feedback, either to improve an acceptable article, or to increase the chances that a revised article containing additional data or other improvements will be acceptable upon resubmission. The problem is that providing good feedback is time consuming, requiring allocations that may range from about half an hour per article for a brief editorial reject made soon after receipt, to much longer times, perhaps up to three hours per article, for example giving detailed feedback from an external reviewer. Review and editorial work for scholarly journals is predominantly an honorary activity, although many of the multinational publisher journals pay some allowances to editors, and employ paid copy editors. Now, owing to the ERA "initiative", reviewers and editors for some or many journals face the prospect of an increased honorary workload and a decreased "return" for their effort. This prospect has arisen for reasons touched upon in a previous commentary :
... one potential research question, "What is the impact of Tiering upon lower ranked journals?" Presumably, lower ranked Australian based journals (Table 1) will have to increase their reliance upon overseas authors, as Australian authors switch their preferences to higher ranked journals, even if that means migrating from their preferred group of journals to a more distantly related group of journals. If Australian authors do switch preferences, and the supply of high quality articles by experienced researchers to journals such as AJET is affected, then we face an increase in review and editorial workloads, as we put more time into attracting and assisting "new" authors who will replace our "lost" authors. The "new" authors are mostly from outside Australia, many being less experienced in research planning and research methods, and often there are increases in the review time and copy editing time required per article. Whilst the great majority of our reviewers do try to put in the extra time that may be required for submissions by "new" authors, we are very conscious that the great majority have encountered decreasing scope to allocate extra time, owing to general increases in teaching or service loads, and to higher expectations concerning research output (plus working harder to get it into A* or A journals, in the case of Australian academics).
As to a decreased "return for effort", that has been imposed already, by the demotion of AJET from Tier A to Tier B, as reported in AJET Editorial 26(1) . It could be a bit less rewarding to do honorary work for a Tier B journal compared with a Tier A. The key test is likely to be late in 2010 when we have space to revive the stalled process for recruiting a team of Associate Editors, nominated in Editorial 25(5)  as a key priority for AJET in 2010. Will there be a good supply of volunteers for a journal that is "only a Tier B"?
How will these trends, if occurring, impact upon the pursuit of knowledge? Unlikely to "momentum increased", as far as AJET is concerned, though it's uncertain where the outcome will be in the range between "momentum maintained" and "momentum lost". At least we have appropriate baseline data, especially in the form of review outcomes data (see later in this Editorial, for the 2010 update), and our "internationalisation" data, last updated in Editorial 25(3) . Add new update for AJET's "internationalisation" data table to the priority list!
In a "one pager"  tabled at the meeting, I tried to develop a concise "invitation" to the ARC to address concerns about its implementation of "Ranked outlets" [14, 15]:
We seek the Minister's support and assistance in directing two requests to the Australian Research Council, giving them an importance similar to a Parliamentary Question:Now, what are the chances that the ARC will treat these questions as "similar to a Parliamentary Question"? To be realistic: Vanishingly small. Firstly, the ARC deals with really senior people, VCs and PVC(R)s, and it not an ordinary department of the Australian Government, it is an "External Agency". My email delivering the "one pager" in electronic form conceded our smallness in the bigger scheme of things :
- Provide a research paper (prepared to research journal standards) that explains the purposes, derivations and research based validations of the "Tiers for the Australian Ranking of Journals", and explains the evidence upon which the 2010 rankings are based.
- Provide a review of the impact of "Tiers" upon Australian based journals, relative to their major competitors, which are nearly all owned by European and American multinational publishers, with particular reference to professional society, open access, not for profit, online only journals. Explain the rationale for imposing a downgrading upon Australian journals (such as AJET) and professional society conferences (such as ascilite) and give evidence that the presumed benefits will outweigh the disadvantageous impacts. 
I was very surprised (though pleased) to find senior Departmental officials in attendance, and I thank you for "being there" and for "caring". The ARC's implementation of "Ranked outlets" is only one small part of its ERA agenda, and the fortunes of one journal may seem inconsequential when your list amounts to about 20,712 journals. Nevertheless, the ARC should not place itself at risk of being seen as indifferent towards legitimate concerns about the extent to which their policies are evidence based and open to scrutiny by rank and file academics in the "research trenches", and the impact these policies are likely to have upon Australian journals and conferences. Also in the covering email, I tried to draw attention to the lack of proper journal style publications by the ARC, and to the role of editors (who usually are rather junior persons, rarely drawn from VC and PVC(R) ranks) . Perhaps we can:
move towards more meaningful, better researched, more evidence based, sounder explanations of the "Tiers", and some improved recognition of the role of journals and their editors. More meaningful than the PowerPoints listed under http://www.arc.gov.au/media/ARC_Presentations.htm. After all, we editors are the coal face persons who, by means of the peer review processes that we organise, provide the ARC with one metric, albeit a crude metric, for assessing research excellence. Editors are the persons who perhaps are better placed than others to be sources of evidence on the goodness of correlations between "tier rank of research outlet", "esteem" as estimated by citation counts, or various other metrics, and the merit of the research that is recorded in a publication in a "ranked outlet". Secondly, the ARC will not need to take notice of any matter referred by a Minister. Shortly after the Community Cabinet Meeting in Como, far more dramatic events seized everyone's attention: the change of Prime Minister , and the calling of the Federal election . Nevetheless, although the ARC is unlikely to follow up the "invitations" i. and ii. given above, I'm hopeful that at least some researchers will perceive i. and ii. as under-researched topics worthy of increased attention. For AJET's part, we will give more attention to citation counts from Google Scholar and other sources, and to other metrics such as the Thomson Reuters Impact Factor (for example, see below), exploring how these relate to the ARC's "tier rank of research outlet". Also due for more research is the matter of variability in the review process for journals and conferences, in particular the impact of differences between reviewers.
|No. rejected |
|No. reject |
ext review (b)
|URL for obtaining|
|Computers & Education||Yes||1||A||http://www.elsevier.com/locate/issn/03601315|
|J. of Computer Assisted Learning||Yes||3||A||http://www.wiley.com/bw/journal.asp?ref=0266-4909|
|Australasian J. of Educ. Technology||Yes|
|British J. of Educational Technology||Yes||5||A||http://www.wiley.com/bw/journal.asp?ref=0007-1013|
|Educational Technology, Research & Development||Yes||6||A||http://www.springer.com/east/home/education/learning+%26+instruction?|
|Educational Technology & Society||Yes||7||B||http://www.ifets.info/others/|
|ALT-J: Research in Learning Technol.||No||Not ranked||A||http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/09687769.asp|
|J. of Technology & Teacher Education||No||Not ranked||B||http://www.aace.org/pubs/jtate/|
|Technology, Pedagogy & Education||No||Not ranked||B||http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/1475939X.asp|
|Australian Educational Computing||No||Not ranked||C||http://www.acce.edu.au/item.asp?pid=1124|
|Asia-Pacific J. of Teacher Education||No||Not ranked||A*||http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/1359866X.asp|
|Higher Educ. Res. and Development||No|
Previously, we characterised the correlation between Impact Factor ranking and Tiers 2010 ranking as "reasonably good" . Now we could downgrade that correlation, perhaps to "moderately good". And of course, at long last, we can drop the word "pending" which for some years has featured in all references to AJET's Impact Factor .
A new UK Government took office on 11 May. As a result the content on this site may not reflect current Government policy. All statutory guidance and legislation published on this site continues to reflect the current legal position unless indicated otherwise. We suspect that many or even most academics blithely ignore disclaimers, and if any attention is given, it is more likely to be for the purpose of poking fun at someone else's 'pomposity' (or whatever). AJET's own disclaimer is quite modest, restrained, and deeply buried . However, the disclaimer by the 'new UK Government' establishes a very novel genre! Is there a suggestion that some persons may perceive academic research works commissioned by the UK Government and its agencies, such as Becta , as 'reflections of current Government policy'? To reiterate the issue more bluntly (in a kind of colonial larrikan style), is there a possibility that academic research funded by a previous UK Government is now a bit 'suss', somewhat lessened in integrity, and thus warranting a blanket disclaimer?
So, after that fun about disclaimers, let's turn to a more serious, underlying matter:
Next steps for BectaFrom an editorial perspective, we hope, quite fervently, that 'the planned closure of Becta' (the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) does not lead to 'switching off' the servers containing a wealth of educational technology research and practical advice, that has done so much to maintain the British presence in this area of academic endeavour. Returning to the beginning of this Idle Moment, such a 'switching off' would break a rather large number of Becta URLs inserted into AJET articles during many years of copy editing of reference lists!
On 24 May 2010 the Government announced a package of measures to reduce expenditure in the public sector. This included the planned closure of Becta. 
Roger Atkinson and Catherine McLoughlin
AJET Production Editor and AJET Editor
in AJET 26(5)
Sydney, 5-8 December 2010. Website http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/sydney10/
20-23 Sept 2010
for Information Processing
Melbourne, 3-4 November
ATN Assessment 2010 Conference: Sustainability, Diversity and Innovation, 18-19 November 2010
University of Technology Sydney. http://www.iml.uts.edu.au/atnassessment/
Forum on Open Learning
24-28 November 2010, Kochi, India
Commonwealth of Learning and
Indira Ghandi National Open University
|Education 2011 to 2021 - Summit 2011|
Sydney, 14-18 February 2011
DE Hub and ODLAA
CAUDIT CAUL ACODE
The game has changed
Sydney, 3-6 April 2011
The Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET) is a refereed research journal published 6 times per year by the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ascilite). AJET retired its printed version (ISSN 1449-3098) at the end of Volume 23, 2007, and from Volume 24, 2008, the journal is open access, online only (ISSN 1449-5554), and does not have paid subscriptions.
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For editorial inquiries, contact the Editor, Associate Professor Catherine McLoughlin, School of Education (ACT), Australian Catholic University, PO Box 256, Dickson ACT 2602, Australia. Email: Catherine.McLoughlin@acu.edu.au, Tel: +61 2 6209 1100 Fax +61 2 6209 1185.
For review process, production and business matters, contact the Production Editor and Business Manager, Dr Roger Atkinson, 5/202 Coode Street, Como WA 6152, Australia. Email: email@example.com, Tel: +61 8 9367 1133. Desktop publishing (PDF versions) and HTML by Roger Atkinson.
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