Have Your Say: 2021 National Research Infrastructure Exposure Draft Out Now

Help shape the final 2021 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap by providing feedback on the Exposure Draft by 22 December 2021.
Beams of red and blue light

The ARDC welcomes the publication of the 2021 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap Exposure Draft, which is now available for review and feedback.

The Exposure Draft paves the way for the stability and maturity of Australia’s National Research Infrastructure (NRI), including those delivered by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). It has been developed following consultation with the community through interviews, meetings, online discussions and an extensive survey that received almost 3,000 responses.

The ARDC encourages the community to review the document to determine whether your research infrastructure needs have been addressed and provide feedback before the deadline of 22 December 2021 via the online form at the bottom of the Exposure Draft webpage. Your feedback will inform the final NRI Roadmap, which sets out national research infrastructure priorities for the next 5-10 years.

Key messages from the ARDC response focus on the importance of an National Digital Research Infrastructure (NDRI) strategy to ensure the people, skills and knowledge, data, processes and equipment are secured to unlock the value of NRI investment.

The ARDC supports the NRI Roadmap recommendations, including the establishment of an Expert NRI Advisory Group to provide independent advice to Government. Critical to the success of the Advisory Group will be the terms of reference and a clear pathway for the implementation of recommendations. The ARDC recommends including representation from across the STEM and HASS sectors, current NRI facilities, and industry. Early and mid-career researcher representation is also important.

The ARDC welcomes the development of an NDRI Strategy, which has the potential to produce a step change in streamlined DRI access for researchers. It is critical that the strategy considers the interface between NDRI and institutional infrastructure to ensure seamless movement between these environments that together form the research ecosystem. The strategic framework should be based on the identified needs of research communities rather than technology solutions.

The ARDC strongly endorses the recognition in the principles that people are key to realising the value of NRI. The expertise of the NRI workforce is integral to ensure Australian researchers remain connected to cutting-edge technology and are leading best practice internationally. It is imperative that Australia continues to invest in the upskilling and professional development of NRI staff, and the provision of attractive career paths if we want to safeguard the stability and longevity of the NRI ecosystem.

The Roadmap highlights the importance of computing resources but focuses primarily on HPC. Cloud computing is a critical and growing component of NRI; more researchers use cloud for data analysis than HPC. For example, 50,000 researchers across 2,000 research projects are supported on the ARDC Nectar Research Cloud. Given the role of Nectar as a critical infrastructure component, the NDRI ecosystem must include the national research cloud (ARDC Nectar), as well as commercial cloud.

In addition to attracting industry co-investment, national collaborations are essential to create pathways to impact and are proven to drive research quality, employment and increased prosperity. The ARDC’s Translational Research Data Challenges program is a national-scale initiative providing innovative and high-impact digital infrastructure solutions to real-world problems. It focuses on translational research, operating at the intersection of research and industry, to provide tangible and enduring economic, environmental and social benefits to Australia.

Landmark investment in national digital research infrastructure should include a National Data System that would address the main body of research, industry and public policy needs, providing a coherent framework of governance, capability and interoperability. The ARDC encourages the development of a national federated network of repositories and associated storage. Implementation requires strong national leadership, direction and coordination to drive the development of preservation standards, storage architectures and interoperability. However, for a national research infrastructure to hold the trust of the research community, a multi-decade strategy (hence landmark) must be supported.

The ARDC agrees with the recommendation to drive a more integrated NRI ecosystem. Following the 2016 Roadmap, the ARDC was formed in 2018 through the integration of the Australian National Data Service (ANDS), National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (Nectar) and Research Data Services (RDS). Building on these foundations, ARDC is now accelerating research and innovation by driving excellence in the creation, analysis and retention of high-quality data assets. This is delivering a range of benefits to the research sector.

Please ensure your voice is heard by responding to the recommendations related to national digital research infrastructure. Visit the Exposure Draft 2021 and complete the form at the bottom of the page.

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