Opening Remarks: International Objective Measurement Workshop XII

June 30, 2004, Cairns, Australia

Prof. Bernard Moulden:

Good morning everybody, and welcome to the Twelfth International Objective Measurement Workshop, hosted this year by James Cook University in Cairns.

Because we are geographically a little off the beaten track in this little corner of paradise, you will understand that I can't resist the opportunity to give you a 60-second burst of bragging about the university that of which I am privileged to be the Vice Chancellor and President.

A few years ago James Cook University committed itself to the goal of becoming one of the top five universities of the world enhancing life in the tropics through education and research. At the time that might have seemed a bit of a stretch target for some, but recent objective evidence shows that in fact we are well on the way to achieving it.

I know you are all interested in evidence and here is a piece of evidence that I like a lot. The recent survey by researchers at Shanghai's Jiao Tong university identified the top 500 universities of the world in terms of their research performance. That survey placed Harvard, Stanford, Caltech, and UC Berkeley at the top of the list. In fact it showed that the USA was home to 160 of the world top 500; Germany and the UK have about 40 each, and that Australia has just 13 universities in the world Top 500. Now of course I wouldn't be telling you this if it wasn't for the fact that James Cook University is one of those top 13, one of only three to be located outside of a capital city, and one of only two in Queensland - but wait, there's more.

Obviously a big university will nearly always produce more than a small one - but if you measure not total output but research intensity, by dividing output by the number of staff - then you discover that JCU ranks number three in Australia, behind ANU and Macquarie and, and with a research intensity score almost double that of the University of Queensland.

Other evidence shows that if we look just at the universities located in the tropical regions JCU ranks in the top dozen in the world, and what is more, it shows that in some disciplines the impact measures of our scientist's research - the number of times their work is cited by others - puts us in the top three or four in the world.

So there you are - I bet you didn't know that before, and I bet you feel a lot better now that you do. It certainly makes me feel good.

Once upon a time - half a lifetime ago - I was a Professor of Psychology. I worked at what some of my colleagues called the "hard" end of the discipline, on the neurophysiology of vision. They worked at what I called the "soft" end, in what seemed to me to be a context of intrinsically untestable theory and either, on the one hand, a complete absence of quantitative data or, on the other, a wealth of data of indeterminate validity and an interpretability status that I could only charitably describe as astrological. Needless to say, we didn't talk much.

Until around 1970, the advance of science had generally been assumed to be smoothly cumulative. Then Thomas Kuhn published his remarkable book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" and established the notion that science proceeds in punctate steps, as one paradigm of thought replaces a previous one. Many people believe that Rasch analysis, or perhaps more generally Item Response Theory, constitutes a significant enough change in thought and approach to social sciences to merit the status of a genuine paradigm shift.

Indeed, in 2003 Mark Blais, of Harvard Medical School, wrote a book review entitled "Have you heard we're having a revolution? The coming of modern test theory" [Journal of Personality Assessment, 80, 2: 208-210]. The book in question was of course Bond & Fox's ambitiously titled "Applying the Rasch model: Fundamental Measurement in Human Science". Ambitious it may have been, but Blais was clearly converted: "This is a great book", he said, "and reading it...might just make you part of the quiet revolution in test development." (Trevor Bond can make the usual commission payments to the Vice Chancellor's special account.)

Having seen the briefing notes for your conference I'm in no doubt that a genuine revolution has occurred, and I suspect that it is well on the way to robbing the 'hard science/soft science' dimension of any reality that it may ever have had. I envy you the exciting sense of redefining the frontiers that you must all be enjoying, and I wish you well in your enthusiastic development of the new paradigm. From what I said at the outset I have no doubt you will find that James Cook University provides the ideal intellectual environment and context for your scholarly activities.

Colleagues, I apologize for not being there in person to greet you, and I can't even use pressure of work as an excuse because in June I shall be on recreational leave in Europe. I hope that northern Queensland is living up to its reputation as being glorious one day and perfect the next, and round about now I shall be thinking of you with envy and probably longing to be home. Even from the Loire Valley I shall be envying you your immersion in stochastic Guttman ordering, conjoint additivity, Campbell concatenation, sufficiency, and infinite divisibility.

Thank you for listening, enjoy yourselves, and welcome.

Opening Remarks: International Objective Measurement Workshop XII, Moulden B. … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 2004, 18:2 p. 975

Rasch Publications
Rasch Measurement Transactions (free, online) Rasch Measurement research papers (free, online) Probabilistic Models for Some Intelligence and Attainment Tests, Georg Rasch Applying the Rasch Model 3rd. Ed., Bond & Fox Best Test Design, Wright & Stone
Rating Scale Analysis, Wright & Masters Introduction to Rasch Measurement, E. Smith & R. Smith Introduction to Many-Facet Rasch Measurement, Thomas Eckes Invariant Measurement: Using Rasch Models in the Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences, George Engelhard, Jr. Statistical Analyses for Language Testers, Rita Green
Rasch Models: Foundations, Recent Developments, and Applications, Fischer & Molenaar Journal of Applied Measurement Rasch models for measurement, David Andrich Constructing Measures, Mark Wilson Rasch Analysis in the Human Sciences, Boone, Stave, Yale
in Spanish: Análisis de Rasch para todos, Agustín Tristán Mediciones, Posicionamientos y Diagnósticos Competitivos, Juan Ramón Oreja Rodríguez

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Coming Rasch-related Events
Oct. 6 - Nov. 3, 2023, Fri.-Fri. On-line workshop: Rasch Measurement - Core Topics (E. Smith, Facets),
Oct. 12, 2023, Thursday 5 to 7 pm Colombian timeOn-line workshop: Deconstruyendo el concepto de validez y Discusiones sobre estimaciones de confiabilidad SICAPSI (J. Escobar, C.Pardo)
June 12 - 14, 2024, Wed.-Fri. 1st Scandinavian Applied Measurement Conference, Kristianstad University, Kristianstad, Sweden
Aug. 9 - Sept. 6, 2024, Fri.-Fri. On-line workshop: Many-Facet Rasch Measurement (E. Smith, Facets),


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