In 2008, global attention focused on financial meltdowns in the United States and Europe, and military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That’s the year online publication East Asia Forum (EAF) was launched at the ANU College of Asia & the Pacific. EAF publishes in-depth analysis and commentary on Asian economics, politics, security and international relations.
Since then, the world’s focus has continued to pivot to Asia as China grew into the world’s second-largest economy, North Korea became a nuclear threat and the U.S. pulled back its influence from the Asia-Pacific region. And EAF has grown to over 800,000 monthly hits on its website and is read by top officials in Australia, United States and other countries throughout the Asia-Pacific.
"A lot of the stuff you used to read on Asia was dominated by writers in North America, Australia and bits of Europe," said Shiro Armstrong, Director of the Australia-Japan Research Centre and editor of EAF. The publication attracts Asian scholars with specialised knowledge in their countries as well as analysts from around the world.
EAF has been issuing two peer-reviewed articles a day for the past decade, including a weekly piece that runs in the Australia Financial Review. Nearly a quarter of the articles are written by ANU scholars with the rest coming from academics around the globe.
In a typical week, EAF publishes stories on Cambodia, China, Japan, North Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Southeast Asia and the Trans Pacific Partnership.
"A big part of this is to link to deeper research so that busy people in the policy community and business sector can read an 800-word article and, if they’re interested in more on the topic, they can click on links to additional material," Armstrong said. "This is a pretty useful tool for getting research out there."
Besides acting as a clearinghouse for analysis of Asian affairs, EAF has also created a deep network of Asian academics and other experts.
"It's attracted contributions from over 4,000 experts and nurtures up-and-coming analysts from around the region," said Professor Peter Drysdale, EAF editor-in-chief and College of Asia & Pacific economist who focuses on international trade and economic policy. "EAF is the go-to site on Asian economic policy and public affairs."
The publication also provides opportunities for ANU students, who handle most of the editing of articles for the website and the print-version East Asia Forum Quarterly. Student editors often graduate to top international-affairs positions in academia and government policy offices.
EAF would like to add country surveys by sending over Australian researchers overseas to be paired with local academics or government officials for a first-hand look and then report on it – similar to what journalists used to do but with more-depth reports.
"Given the urgency and need for building up Asian literacy in this country, not just among academics but in the policy world, this would be a pretty forward-looking idea," Armstrong said.