The ERA (Excellence in Research Australia) results have just been released (ERA outcomes) and so all the universities will now be poring over the data with a fine-tooth comb to find some angle they can use to demonstrate their own excellence. Of course, we jumped straight to the Mathematical Sciences page, and were ecstatic to discover that Pure Maths at UWA has been given the top possible grade of “5”. The only other university to score a 5 in Pure Maths was ANU, and so basically the outcome is better than we could ever have hoped.
Of course, we can’t get carried away – the very notion of this kind of ranking is full of difficulties and contradictions, particularly when trying to make judgements between different disciplines. In particular, Pure Maths probably had a good head start over some other disciplines, in that our natural publication habits – namely, to publish strong completed results in the best possible international journals – align closely with the ERA criteria. So we were already trying to get our work into JCT-B and similar high-ranked journals and didn’t need the ERA to push us in that direction.
But, even though we have to take it all with a generous pinch of salt, it’s certainly a bit of a coup for our (extended) group, and seeing everyone believes that money will eventually follow the high ranked disciplines, it’s a great boost for the future of Pure Mathematics in the Faculty.