RQF Round Table

August 2009: This was my first, and so far, only attempt at live-blogging. Phew! Can I say how great it is to have Twitter these days to keep up!

A live blog post from the final round table session. Sue Baker (VCA and Chair of ACUADS), Brad Haseman (QUT Creative Industries), Pat Hoffie (GU Queensland College of Arts), Nick Oughton (GU Film School), and Huib Schippers (GU-Queensland Conservatorium), chaired by Roly Sussex (UQ).

Sue Baker’s hopeful take was for creative arts academics to step up and join in the RQF process. Pat Hoffie seemed to take the how do you value art approach.  Nick Oughton spoke on behalf of the film industries and the systems for developing the capturing of metrics as part of the portfolio preparation. Huib Schippers picked up on Pat’s comments on artist’s defensiveness to be categorised as researchers. He spoke on impact, process. He noted the way arts works in a similar paradigm to that of science, via labs. Sources for our ‘information’ and intuition about the tools and the direction of our research is difficult to footnote. Journal articles are not the most appropriate output for our research. What we have to do when we submit is to make clear what the research output is in order to make the case. He noted the rise of the digital media as an assistance in presenting non-linear research outcomes (DVD, websites etc.) Impact and payback lie in the spheres of policy, professional practice, economic, social, cultural and the environment.

Brad Haseman decided to weave through an improvised response on a ‘healthy’ research life. He noted the clear protocols set down by the research industry, and which we are required to embrace. Serious, proper methods are needed. That’s the hygiene. Your findings are expected to be reported in particular forms. He also noted the wider, larger zeitgeist. He put the question whether or not the old order was appropriate for accommodating the ‘mess’ and the new form needed. If you are going to have a research process that can accommodate the new ‘mess’ perhaps we are the ones to make the new research paradigm with expert improvisation, assembling as we go. The new researcher needs an adroitness and flexibility with open ness, provisionality the markers of the new methodology. The key capacity is heightened reflexivity, in order to work as a contemporary researcher in the creative arts. The problem may only become clear at the end of the journey. We need to be aware of the multiplicity of our methods of practice. These become the methods of research (document along the way), not necessarily those of the old order. There is also a need to be aware of the multiplicity of truths (politics, ethics, spirituality etc), and the multiplicity of reporting forms. We need forms of material reporting that are suited to the practice of our artforms.

Sue Baker noted the RQF as an accounting exercise by the government and as an auditing process. We must be sure that we are not making judgment on the quality of art which is publicly funded, but to keep clear about what it is we are doing.

Comments and Observations from the audience:

difficulty of valuing art … verification and value of art is extremely difficult. (Resp) Peer review is probably the best principle of ‘judging’ the quality of work. (SB)

(PH) Voiced concerns about peer review being the best if a flawed method of assessing work. It is flawed with DEST and state and federal agencies. She noted the test of time as being the one that lasts. (SB) Noted the way creative arts have been vexed by the proxy mentality i.e., they should have been more ‘scientific.’ (BH) If we are not part of the conversation, our contribution will not be understood. Publication and methodology in the creative arts has not been ‘healthy.’ We need to get to the research table. Creative artists can unpack what they do methodologically, and we need to embrace the questions of quality. We can do it for the RQF. How do we make peer review work? That’s the big issue. (PH) Yes we need to be present at the research table, but the way we come to the table is through our own agency not as mendicants. The process of self-censorship has been profound. The process of the arts is vital … arts are loved because they are different. (HS) Noted that the full breadth of research needs to be looked at with a variety of paradigms being applied to research process and evaluation. (NO) Noted that the arts have had a huge impact on the history of human beings … art is part of what the meaning of being human is. He noted the way screen researchers are attempting to position themselves in their field.

Q . How is Australia doing compared with international artistic practice as research. (HS) Compared with UK results (10 years in the making). There is no sign in the UK or NZ of measuring research impact, so we ahead.

Q. Any universities have a model for rewarding practice? Melbourne, Edith Cowan, USQ, dropped at QUT. Noted as an incentive for staff. (SB) Noted reporting important for capacity building and developing a research culture.

Roly Sussex winding up noted that RQF had provided the opportunity for creative arts to establish themselves at the research table, and the importance of being heard. Noted the diversity of research methodologies by some: ‘performing the outcome of your research is almost an oxymoron.’ Synergies between the creative arts and other disciplines are capable of being played out in many interesting ways.


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