A Data-Enabled Research Future for Australia

Australia's Learned Academies published 6 reports that provide insights into uplifting data-driven research.
Figurines in a lattice

The pandemic and recent natural disasters have reinforced the importance of rapid access to data to inform timely decision making. Coordinated and integrated data infrastructure is vital to making data available when it’s needed for emergencies, and for answering research questions about the world around us.

To uplift our national data capabilities for researchers, the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) partnered with the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) and the five Learned Academies to enable more data-driven research and decision making across all fields of research.

Today, 6 reports were released that provide insights into the ripe opportunities for progressing and driving Australian research and innovation through data, and guidance on how governments, industry and research institutions can achieve this.

The reports leverage the insights and capabilities of Australia’s leading minds from the Learned Academies, which conducted environmental scans to explore the current state, barriers and opportunities for realising an effective data-enabled research sector. The sixth report, by ACOLA, synthesises insights from across the scans, highlighting common themes, opportunities and needs of multidisciplinary research.

The reports share the potential of a data-enabled research future, where researchers have the skills, resources, tools and technologies to leverage data to its full extent. Researchers will be able to develop new knowledge and address real world challenges, such as:

  • Developing mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate change
  • Tackling health challenges, such as dementia, obesity and antimicrobial resistance
  • Providing deep insights into the experience and well-being of our population.

CEO of the ARDC Rosie Hicks said, “These reports showcase the critical pathways to accelerate Australian research and innovation through data. They identify opportunities for a coordinated approach to addressing digital research needs and opportunities within and across disciplines.

“The ARDC looks forward to working alongside the Learned Academies and Australia’s research community, governments and industry to work towards a data-enabled research future.”

ACOLA Board Chair and President of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Professor Richard Holden said, “This work will help progress our vision for data-driven research to thrive in Australia. The Academies and ACOLA have clear roles in uplifting data-driven research, alongside governments, the ARDC, universities and industry. Together we can ensure a fit-for-purpose and future-proof approach to Australian research data.”

Broadly, the reports highlight 3 key areas to drive improvements in digital research in Australia:

  • Invest further in data as a public good, but especially for research and innovation.
  • Real action is needed to implement the FAIR and CARE principles.
  • There are actions for all stakeholders, in leading change and building capability, to realise Australia’s data-driven future.

Download the 6 reports on Australia’s Data-Enabled Research Future.


Australia’s 5 Learned Academies provide independent, authoritative and influential research-based advice across research domains, build public awareness and understanding of research, and champion, celebrate and support excellence in Australian research and innovation. The Academies are:

ACOLA is the forum whereby Australia’s Learned Academies come together to contribute expert advice to inform national policy; and to develop innovative solutions to complex global problems and emerging national needs.

The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) drives the development of national digital research infrastructure that provides Australian researchers with competitive advantage through data. The ARDC is enabled by the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).

Learn more about the project, Australian Learned Academies’ Future of Research Data.