Steve Kates tells us that the reclassification, in the view of the Australian ASB, is supposed to reflect policy and practice in the rest of the world. He writes, to the HES listserve:
In this discussion on the reclassification of the History of Economic
Thought and Economic History within Australia, the following statement
we have received from one of the key decision makers making this
determination in Australia should be noted. The second point he makes
is, I think, of very great importance to our international colleagues.
'One of the main reasons for the revision is to reduce the number of
research projects classified as "other not elsewhere classified" which
in some areas represented a significant proportion of the research
effort. Secondly, we need to be able to make international
that have consistency with international standards. The body seen as
most representative at this point in time is the OECD hence the
alignment with that organisation's Fields of Science. Third there has
be greater alignment between research activity and Socio-economic
objectives. Finally, an economic measure of research activity was
chosen to limit the inclusion of non-active areas of research. The
figure decided upon was $250k with some flexibility for rapid growth
areas or areas of significant importance that did not meet the
benchmark. Taking all of these factors into consideration the History
of Economic Thought and Economic History have been classified
appropriately by the ABS.'
Whether there is an international classification scheme that removes
HET and EH from within the Economics discipline we have not yet been
able to establish. But should this be the case, then this
reclassification is more than just a local event.
I might finally note that the criterion for whether to consider History
of Economics "non active" is whether we receive a sufficiently high
level of public money in undertaking our research. I know that metrics
in education are often bizarrely inappropriate, but this would be
something special even there.