ARDC’s eResearch and Data Skills Summit Helps Turn Challenges Into Results

The ARDC's Australian eResearch and Data Skills Summit 2020 continues as the national focal point for defining and addressing challenges to Australia’s digitally skilled research workforce.
eResearch and skills

Building on the success of 2019’s inaugural event, the Australian Research Data Commons’ Australian eResearch and Data Skills Summit 2020 continued as the national focal point for defining and addressing challenges to Australia’s digitally skilled research workforce.

The 2020 virtual summit, which was held 26–30 October, was an interactive event designed to foster discussions and lead to outcomes. The 140 registered attendees heard about a variety of subjects including perspectives on international initiatives from guest speakers Dr Karen Word, Director of Instructor Training at The Carpentries; Dr Iryna Kuchma, Open Access Programme Manager for the Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL); and Dr Michelle Barker, Director of the Research Software Alliance (ReSA). Attendees also took part in sessions tackling key skills and workforce development challenges including sharing materials and training activities, best practices in a virtual world and sustainability.

Attendees noted the summit’s high quality talks and discussions, productive community action sessions, networking with peers and sharing national and international information as key highlights. 

A key goal of the summit was to turn research data skills challenges into tangible goals with achievable outcomes, which resulted in four new working groups that will focus on the following areas:

  • supporting the development and upskilling of trainers and facilitators
  • developing a national training registry and national training event calendar to raise the visibility of skills training across the sector
  • building a collaborative network for the co-development of training materials to target topic overlaps 
  • strategies for enhancing the career development for eResearch support professionals.   

The Skills Summit Committee played a key role in the success of the event. It included Ann Backhaus, Pawsey Supercomputing Centre; Dr Mark Crowe, Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation (QCIF); Komathy Padmanabhan, Monash University; Dr Anastasios Papaioannou, Intersect and Dr Darya Vanichkina, University of Sydney. The summit session chairs, Dr Tyne Sumner, University of Melbourne; Dr Darya Vanichkina; Dr Mar Quiroga, University of Melbourne and Natasha Simons, ARDC, also provided valuable contributions.

“Legendary U.S. football coach Vince Lombardi once said, ‘Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.’ In a year filled with significant challenges we’ve managed as an eResearch and data skills community to come together, identify and decide on our next steps towards national skills cohesion. Let’s chase perfection into 2021,” said Kathryn Unsworth, Skills Consultant (National Coordination and Communities) ARDC.