Summary

The Nectar Allocation request form has fields for providing up to 3 ANZSRC Field of Research (FoR) codes. The purpose of these fields is to allow us to determine what kinds of research Nectar resources are being used for. Unfortunately, we often find that the people submitting allocation requests do not entirely understand how we want the codes to be used. This leads to projects being miss-classified and the overall statistics being incorrectly skewed towards certain research fields.

For our purposes, the FoR codes for a Nectar Allocation request should be chosen:

  • based on the nature of the research activity or field of study rather than the research methodology, and
  • based on the actual research rather than the way that you intended to use the Nectar resources.

We recognize that the process of FoR code classification can be subjective, and that you (the researcher) will usually be the best judge of where your research fits into the FoR hierarchy.

Methodology or Area of Study?

The ANZSRC FoR code documentation does not prescribe how FoR codes should be used.  Indeed, the documentation implicitly acknowledges that FoR codes can be used to denote either a research methodology or an area of study.


The primary purpose of recording FoR codes for Nectar allocations is so that Nectar / ARDC can report on resource usage broken down by the area of research or study.  Put simply, the stakeholders want to know which areas of research are being supported by Nectar resources.  From this, it is clear that FoR codes on Nectar Allocation request forms need to be based on the area of research or study, not the methodology used in either the research itself or in the use of the Nectar resources.

A procedure for selecting FoR codes

The Nectar allocation form requires you to provide between one and three FoR codes and ascribe a percentage to each one. The 6 digit FoR codes are preferable, but you can also use 4 or 2 digit codes if the supported research areas for the allocation are broad.

If you are not familiar with the FoR codes in your research area, we suggest the following procedure for deciding on which ones to use.  As noted above, we want the codes to match your research project's research area rather than the research methodology.

  1. Obtain the complete list of all FoR codes; for example, from the Australian Bureau of Statistics ANZSRC FoR 2008 website.
  2. Identify the research project or projects that your Nectar allocation is going to support. (Some Nectar allocations are for shared infrastructure that may support multiple research projects.)
  3. Identify the FoR code divisions (two digit codes) that match the project or projects' areas of research or study. The current (ANZSRC FoR 2008) division list is as follows:

    01 Mathematical Sciences
    02 Physical Sciences
    03 Chemical Sciences
    04 Earth Sciences
    05 Environmental Sciences
    06 Biological Sciences
    07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
    08 Information and Computing Sciences
    09 Engineering
    10 Technology
    11 Medical and Health Sciences
    12 Built Environment and Design
    13 Education
    14 Economics
    15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
    16 Studies in Human Society
    17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
    18 Law and Legal Studies
    19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing
    20 Language, Communication and Culture
    21 History and Archaeology
    22 Philosophy and Religious Studies
  4. For each selected 2 digit division, consult the full list to find the 4 digit groups that correspond to the research area.
  5. For each selected 4 digit group, consult the full list to find the 6 digit groups that correspond to the research area. Note that each 6 digit group has an "nnnn99" code for research not covered by the other codes in the group.
  6. If you have selected more than three codes, "collapse" your selection to 4 digit or 2 digits codes.  For example "010401", "010403" and "010404" could be collapsed to "0104".  

The final step is to ascribe an approximate percentage importance to the (up to) three FoR codes that you have selected. The percentages need to add up to 100%.

Classification difficulties

Based on what we have observed, there two issues that can make proper FoR code classification difficult.

The first issue is that some Nectar allocations are actually requested by IT or eResearch support staff on behalf of the researcher. In such cases, the requestor may not know enough about the actual research to choose the correct FoR codes. If you are in this position, you need to ask the Researcher or the CI to supply the correct FoR codes.  (Make sure that you ask them for "research area" FoR codes rather than "methodology" FoR codes because the researcher may not be aware of the distinction.)

The second issue is that some Nectar allocations are granted to support services used by a broad range of researchers in a number of research fields. For example, an "HPC in the cloud" service might be intended to support all researchers in (say) a University, irrespective of their research area.  If your allocation is like this, there is a way to specify in the form that the allocation request is not classifiable:

  • Do not enter any FoR codes, and remove any that have already been entered in the fields.
  • Set all of the FoR code percentages to zero percent for all FoR fields.

Finally, we recognise that FoR code classification is subjective, and that the Nectar allocation form's limitations can also get in the way. What we want from you is a reasonable attempt at choosing the most appropriate FoR codes. If we notice issues with your classifications, we can get back to you to clarify them. Naturally, this is limited by the (research) domain knowledge of the people assessing your requests.