Digital Research Skills Trainers Convene at the 2023 ARDC Skills Summit

Digital skills professionals from across Australia explored success factors for training and discussed narrowing the digital research skills gap at the 2023 ARDC Skills Summit.
Group photo of the ateendees of the 2023 A R D C Skills Summit, taken on a flight of stairs

Banner photo credit: Renee Nowytarger / ARDC

The 2023 ARDC Skills Summit saw digital research trainers and skills professionals from across Australia working together within a culture of respect, collegiality, and open sharing. This rippled through the 2 days, echoing the beautiful Welcome to Country from Wiradjuri Gadigal Elder Aunty Joan Bell at the beginning of the Summit.

A Keynote from Jason Williams from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Our keynote speaker Jason Williams, Assistant Director at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center in New York, centred his talk on what makes a good researcher, by providing a critique of superhero origin stories, which resonated with the audience, judging by the chuckles of recognition. He spoke about career progression and the role that effective, inclusive and targeted short-format training can play in ensuring that researchers maintain their edge across their entire career. He outlined a set of principles that make this possible – the Bike Principles – and highlighted a key recommendation for effective short-format training – professionalise the training of short-format training instructors and instructional designers.

Jason Williams giving a keynote through Zoom. Attendees, sitting around tables, are paying attention
Jason Williams giving his keynote. Photo credit: Renee Nowytarger / ARDC

Day 1: Exploring Success Factors for Skills Training

Suitably positioned by the keynote talk, Day 1 of the Skills Summit focused on exploring the success factors for skills training. As a trainer community, we asked, “How can we ensure that our training scales, enhances learner engagement and sits within a sustainable model?” Our group collaborative activity worked backwards from the worst possible outcomes imaginable, to explore ideas and evidence to ensure success.

Broad themes from Day 1 on success factors for digital research skills training included:

  • professionalisation of skills trainers
  • building a community around training
  • good learning design
  • measuring impact and effectiveness of training
  • scalability and sustainable models
  • planning the design, development and delivery of training.

Day 2: Addressing the Digital Research Skills Gap

On Day 2, the conversation broadened to national approaches that would help narrow the digital research skills gap. A panel session outlining skills frameworks set the scene for national- level collaborations, particularly the consolidation of a national skills taxonomy and the meaningful implementation of frameworks.

Broad themes from Day 2 on influencing national conversations on digital research skills included: 

  • skills frameworks – interconnections and usability, and creating a national skills taxonomy with agreed terminology
  • the need for national advocacy for the value of short-format digital research skills training and career-spanning learning
  • supported peer learning and Communities of Practice (CoPs)
  • development of practical, applicable and customisable training with alternative and innovative training pathways
  • reduction in duplication and smarter resource allocation for skills development
  • collaboration as being critical because we are stronger together
  • national approaches to training evaluation, including a DReSA dashboard.

The ARDC Skills Summit was a high-energy event, with everyone making the most of the opportunity to reconnect and make new connections in person. A big thank you to all those who participated. You can watch recordings of both days of the Summit from the following playlist:

What Participants Are Saying About the Skills Summit

Lyndal Gunton from the QUT Library said, “I recommend this annual event for all involved in planning, coordinating, delivering or funding training for researchers to understand more about the importance and role of these skills in academia and industry. It’s a great way to work collaboratively to solve common challenges we face.”

Join Our Editorial Team

The ARDC Skills Summit participants made valuable contributions, providing the ARDC Skills and Workforce Development team with considerable material with which to start writing an article or a position paper underlining the importance and value of digital research skills training. If you haven’t already expressed your interest in being a part of the editorial team, please contact us.

We look forward to seeing our digital research training community again at our next Skills Summit.

Photos From the Summit

Here is a selection of photos from the Summit (credit: Renee Nowytarger / ARDC):

Four attendees giving a presentation in front of a projection screen. Three of them are holding up a large piece of paper with writing on it
Five attendee sitting around a table with laptops and notes on it. One of them is speaking to someone outside the group witha microphone
Four attendees standing in a circle, having a conversation next to a board titled "Sustainability" and affixed with post-its
A R D C members sitting around a table with some of the attendees with galsses and paper in front of them
A R D C's Liz Stokes addressing the attendees, who are sitting around tables, in front of a whiteboard with writing on it
A R D C's Adeline Wong in a conversation with 2 attendees over light refreshments
Group photo of the ateendees of the 2023 A R D C Skills Summit, cheering with their arms raised, taken on a flight of stairs
A R D C's Lisa Rigney with 2 attendees at a table, one speaking to someone outside the group with a microphone
Dr Mark Crowe giveing a talk at a podium next to a projection screen reading "Bringing Training Communities to Research"
Aidan Wilson giving a talk at a podium in front of the A R D C brand backdrop
Dr Pablo Franco giving a talk in front of the A R D C brand backdrop
Three attendees having a conversation in front of the A R D C brand backdrop
Several attendees with an A R D C member standing, paying attention to someone
Three attendees having a conversation over light refreshments
Aunty Joan Bell delivering a Welcome to Country
An attendee speaking into a microphone with people looking
A R D C's Keith Russell giving an opening addressing

The ARDC is funded through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) to support national digital research infrastructure for Australian researchers.


Kathryn Unsworth, Liz Stokes, Adeline Wong, Doris Harrison, Sonia Ramza, ARDC

Reviewed by

Jo Savill, ARDC


Research Topic