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1297.0 - Australian Standard Research Classification (ASRC), 1998  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/08/1998   
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Nature and purpose of the RFCD classification

1. This classification allows both R&D activity and other activity within the higher education sector to be categorised.

2. The categories in the classification include recognised academic disciplines and related major sub-fields taught at universities or tertiary institutions, major fields of research investigated by national research institutions and organisations, and emerging areas of study.

3. While this classification includes individual specialised fields of national interest, it generally reflects the overall structure of disciplinary fields.

4. R&D activity is classified according to the field of research undertaken. In this respect, it is the nature of the R&D itself which is being examined, rather than the activity of the performing unit or the purpose of the R&D. Higher education courses, units of study and teaching activity are classified according to field.


Structure of the RFCD Classification

5. The classification is arranged in a hierarchical structure. It has 24 divisions, 139 disciplines and 898 subjects.

6. The divisions are:

      210000 - Science - General
      220000 - Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts - General
      230000 - Mathematical Sciences
      240000 - Physical Sciences
      250000 - Chemical Sciences
      260000 - Earth Sciences
      270000 - Biological Sciences
      280000 - Information, Computing and Communication Sciences
      290000 - Engineering and Technology
      300000 - Agricultural, Veterinary and Environmental Sciences
      310000 - Architecture, Urban Environment and Building
      320000 - Medical and Health Sciences
      330000 - Education
      340000 - Economics
      350000 - Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
      360000 - Policy and Political Science
      370000 - Studies in Human Society
      380000 - Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences
      390000 - Law, Justice and Law Enforcement
      400000 - Journalism, Librarianship and Curatorial Studies
      410000 - The Arts
      420000 - Language and Culture
      430000 - History and Archaeology
      440000 - Philosophy and Religion
7. Divisions, disciplines and subjects are each assigned a six-digit code. Divisions are uniquely identified by the first two digits and the remainder of the code is zero filled. Disciplines are uniquely identified by the first four digits and the remainder of the code is zero filled. Each subject has an unique six-digit code.

8. There are ninety-nine possible categories at the discipline and subject levels, to allow for future expansion of the classification.


Guidelines for classifying by RFCD

9. The following general procedures are aimed to ensure consistent and successful classification.

10. A research project or course is to be allocated to a RFCD subject in a hierarchical manner. This is achieved by first determining the division in which the research is being performed, then the most relevant discipline within that division and then the most relevant subject within that discipline.

11. It is vital to firstly identify the higher level classifications as some subjects, although within different disciplines, have identical titles.

12. There are two 'general' divisions (210000 Science - General and 220000 Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts - General) and one 'general' discipline (320100 Medicine - General) to enable classification of areas of study which cannot be allocated to more specific categories.


Relationship with other classifications

13. The RFCD classification has been designed primarily to meet the needs of the ABS and the Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs for classifying courses and research projects to field of study/research and classifying units of study to discipline. It will replace the Field of Research (FOR) classification, included in the 1993 edition of the ASRC, and the Field of Study Classification of Higher Education Courses (FOSCHEC).

14. Other classifications which are related to fields of study are:

      • the ABS Classification of Qualifications (ABSCQ) which, although primarily designed as a classification of qualifications already obtained, may also be used to classify educational courses which lead to these qualifications;
      • the Field of Study Classification of Tertiary Education Courses (FOSCTEC) which is based on FOSCHEC with some minor variations to meet the needs of the vocational education and training sector; and
      • the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) which is a classification of educational programmes rather than qualifications.

15. The ABS is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the ABSCQ with the aim of replacing it with an Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED). The review will be completed by late 1999. The ASCED will be consistent with the RFCD with additional categories to cover uniquely vocational education and training sector activities.

16. For further information, or advice on the relationship between these classifications, contact the Director, Classifications and Data Standards Section, ABS on (02) 6252 6300.

17. Three major field of research classifications are:
      • the OECD Fields of Science and Technology Classification, a two level classification incorporated into the fifth revision of the OECD Proposed Standard Practice for Surveys of Research and Experimental Development, Frascati Manual;
      • the European Economic Community (EEC) Sciences Classification, a three level classification used within certain member countries of the EEC, particularly in Belgium; and
      • the US National Science Foundation (NSF) Classification, a two level classification used by that Foundation in the measurement of national science indicators.

18. For advice on the relationship between these classifications and the RFCD, contact the Assistant Director, Research and Development Statistics, ABS on (02) 6252 5627.





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