The purpose of this issues paper is to identify changes that need to be made to the Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) specifications in order to better accommodate the transformative shift to online publication of research. The paper examines how well the existing HERDC specifications concerning research publications embrace research published electronically. Ultimately, the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (the department) wants to identify a contemporary approach to the treatment of electronic books under HERDC.
Setting the scene
There are two data returns in the HERDC; the Research Income Return and the Research Publications Return. This paper relates only to the specifications for reporting research publications. In response to a number of issues arising from the treatment of doctoral theses published online, the chronology of which is attached, the 'electronic book' category was removed from the 2011 HERDC specifications. Subsequently the department committed to consult on the issue of online publications and examine how research published electronically should be defined and included in the HERDC in future years. This paper is the focal point for that consultation.
In 2012 the department sought nominations for a working group to consider this issue. The publications working group met on two occasions in late 2012 for scoping discussions based around its terms of reference as outlined below.