Challenges, Collaboration and Shared Expertise at the ARDC Data Summit

We recap the ARDC Data and Services Summit in 2019.
A large room with people standing and talking to one another at round desks

The Australian Research Data Commons’ (ARDC) Data and Services Summit provided an opportunity for collaboration between institutions, research communities and infrastructure providers. Together delegates identified some of Australia’s major research data opportunities, challenges, and possible solutions.

The Summit, which took place on 21 October 2019, was co-located with the ARDC Infrastructure Summit and eResearch Australasia conference in Brisbane. Attended by delegates from across the sector, the Summit reflected on the learnings and outcomes of the 42 Data and Services Discovery projects funded by the ARDC. These projects covered a range of disciplines, including health and medical sciences, imaging and characterisation, life and natural sciences, and the humanities, arts and social sciences. The summit also considered how future directions and initiatives might be effectively aligned from the perspective of institutions, research communities and infrastructure providers.

The day’s discussions highlighted that many of the same challenges in managing and enabling FAIR data are being faced across the sector. To advance Australia’s eResearch capability, stakeholders need to share learnings and work together to build common infrastructure. Themes included:

  • Sensitive data (including health, personal, cultural, environmental and commercial data), and the need for shared approaches to access control, the complications of working within multiple ethics systems, and social approaches to build and maintain trust.
  • Standards to ensure interoperability of data, the vital role of communities of practice in establishing these standards, and how to engage data producers when research is not the primary purpose of their data.
  • Transitioning from one-off projects to sustainable services, including the importance of demonstrating impact and the need for community buy-in to ensure longevity.

Delegates discussed the ARDC’s role in helping to tackle these data challenges. Given the importance of a coordinated approach across the sector, delegates expressed the importance of the ARDC’s role in developing strategic partnerships and facilitating cooperation and collaboration between stakeholders.

Dr Adrian Burton, Director Data, Policy and Services, ARDC, outlined the ARDC’s approach to providing data infrastructure over the next three years. He emphasised the importance of building strategic partnerships with the sector in a balanced portfolio of projects.

“We want to collaborate with research communities, institutions, infrastructure providers, industry and the public sector to develop national data assets that support leading edge research,” Dr Burton said.

The summit identified shared data challenges and opportunities that have since been integrated into the ARDC strategy refresh. It highlighted other areas where continued co-design of a national data system would be valuable:

  • Data culture, infrastructure, policy and support at enterprise level in research institutions and their role in a data commons.
  • Domains and disciplines moving to national data approaches.
  • Business and public sector touchpoints.

The ARDC will progress these national agendas over the next year. Read the Summit report (PDF, 518 KB) for more details.

A large meeting room full of people standing and talking to one another at round desks; the screen at the front reads "Future Directions"
ARDC Data Summit 2019