CQUniversity clears its name after Fairfax reports

CQUNIVERSITY Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman has hit back at allegations data submitted to the Australian Research Council (ARC) was manipulated to improve the institution's research ranking.

On Tuesday, Fairfax Media reported CQUniversity was one of several universities which had been "threatened with tough penalties for allegedly providing data that would artificially boost their performance" in the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) report.

The report assesses whether the research produced by Australian universities is above, at, or below world standard.

The ARC quickly released a statement which said the allegation CQUniversity, and another university named in the story, had submitted research to multiple categories to inflate results was "not correct".

ARC CEO Aidan Byrne said it was "not fair" the two universities had been singled out.

Prof Bowman said the ARC did contact CQUniversity to clarify why particular papers were classified under some categories.

"We gave them some feedback and that was that," he said.

Prof Bowman said reports of "stern letters" and threats of "tough penalties" were inaccurate, with no such letters and communication between the two organisations.

He said he was disappointed by the allegations, given the improvements in research work at CQUniversity since the last ERA report in 2012.

"We haven't gamed (the ARC) at all," he said.

"We haven't manipulated it. We have just put the research in as it is and where we thought it best fitted.

"We're really confident we're going to show an improvement in research so it was a shame they kind of went after us.

"I think what's really sad about this is we have just done so much in research since the last ERA report in 2012.

"We've concentrated our research on things that make a difference to (Central Queensland)."

Prof Bowman said these research fields included agriculture, applied psychology, health and engineering.

In psychology, Prof Bowman said there was a focus on workplace health and safety and the affects of shift work and fatigue on employees.

Other research has resulted in technological advances to improve the productivity of agricultural industries.

Innovations like the infra-red fruit spectrometer help farmers determine the ripeness and sugar content of produce to calculate the ideal harvest date.

Prof Bowman said he did not believe the allegations would have a long-term impact on the university's reputation.

"I think we're really making great strides amongst the universities group and I think some people are surprised," he said.

"I think they are surprised we are, under the present era, ranked the number one university in Queensland for agriculture.

"I think they are surprised how well we're doing in things like health and I think we are rattling some cages around the place because I don't think people expect this sort of regional university to be forging ahead so quickly."

ERA 2015 is expected to be released in December.

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