While people in the arts, humanities and social sciences have valid concerns about an overly narrow “innovation agenda“, I would be wary of a knee-jerk defence of the “cash for papers” framework of current Research Block Funding models as inherently good for the HASS disciplines. The question of whether institutions should automatically receive about $3,000 for short papers in conference proceedings that are not of the highest international standard is surely a valid one.
Also, if the ERA has seen the number of scholarly journal articles increase from 200,000 in 2010 to 300,000 in 2015, it would be timely to think about whether the biggest priority for the sector is to get the number of journal articles to 400,000 by 2020. Labor has flagged its concerns about better university-industry links and incentives to do something other than “publish or perish”, so it is not a politically partisan issue.
Finally, the HERDC system has never overcome its inherent bias against the creative and performing arts. Performances, exhibitions, novels, short stories, poems, journalistic work, designs and research reports all count in the ERA but not in HERDC, which has long been criticised in the sector. There has long been an issue, for instance, as to why one’s film script cannot be credited in HERDC, but writing about someone else’s scripts and having that published in a journal article or conference paper can.