In November 2020, the Australian Government’s Research Infrastructure Investment Plan announced the investment of $8.9 million to help “build national HASS and Indigenous eResearch infrastructure, creating new tools and platforms to extend researcher capacity”.
The investment plan committed to funding four primary activities:
- HASS eResearch platforms initially comprising three elements:
- Developing the Linguistics Data Commons of Australia (LDaCA)
- Developing a Trove researcher platform for more advanced research
- Integrated social sciences research infrastructure
- Improving Indigenous research capabilities
The work undertaken will “provide easier access to data and analysis methods enabling effective data mining and re-use, maximising the return on previous research investments” and will “help institutions share HASS data more freely and cooperatively following FAIR data principles, see the 2020 Research Infrastructure Investment Plan. It will be guided by the NCRIS Principles and will be “developed on a collaborative, national, nonexclusive basis” and “serve the research and innovation system broadly, not just the host/funded institutions”, see the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy 2021 Guidelines.
A Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Research Data Commons will “collocate data, storage, and computing infrastructure with core services and commonly used tools and applications for managing, analyzing, and sharing data to create an interoperable resource”1 for the Australian HASS research community. As the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Research Data Commons program is one of capability-building for the sector, the appropriate decision making process is a systematic and consultative one, as opposed to a competitive and reactive one. The process for decision making and funding allocation is detailed below.
Background to the investment
The need for investment in both Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) and Indigenous research was detailed in the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap. The Department of Education, Skills and Employment subsequently commissioned three studies which identified a number of investment ready programs that would benefit from National Research Infrastructure funding. Whilst not all of the recommendations of those scoping studies have been funded at this time, the activities earmarked to participate in the initial round of development displayed an advanced state of readiness to participate in and benefit from a HASS Research Data Commons.
Funding for the four activities will be guided by the recommended investment ratios in the DESE studies and capped for each activity as follows:
|Activity||Total FY 21-23|
|Linguistics Data Commons of Australia |
Led by Professor Michael Haugh, School of Languages and Cultures, University of Queensland.
|Trove researcher platform|
Led by Ms. Alison Dellit, Assistant Director General, Collaboration Branch, National Library of Australia.
|Integrated research infrastructure for social sciences|
Led by Dr. Steven McEachern, Director, Australian Data Archive, Centre for Social Research and Methods, Australian National University.
|Improving Indigenous research capabilities|
Led by Professor Marcia Langton, Associate Provost and Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies, Co-Chair Indigenous Data Network, University of Melbourne.
The process is implemented in accordance with the Investment Decision Making Framework for ARDC Co-investment Programs. The investment decision making framework is used to ensure alignment between NCRIS principles and the ARDC’s project development and project approval processes. Prior to presenting the project plans to the ARDC for approval the process will include ARDC co-investment socialisation and solicitation steps:
The ARDC is committed to processes with a high degree of openness and transparency.
The ARDC will make every reasonable effort to ensure that interested participants and stakeholders are aware of the opportunity to participate. Information about the HASS RDC, including open documentation and registration of interest forms, will appear openly on our website and be promoted through appropriate channels.
An advisory panel, comprising expert representatives from relevant national and international bodies in this domain, will be appointed as soon as is practicable and will participate throughout the process. The advisory panel will ensure that both broad community engagement has been achieved and that community feedback has been reasonably incorporated into the project plans.
The HASS RDC and Indigenous research capability program will result in four streams of activity comprising several integrated, synergistic work packages. During the solicitation process, the ARDC is committed to providing equal opportunities and equal access to information. The process is designed to maintain the ARDC’s commitment to fairness and transparency. The solicitation step will include the following three phases:
Phase 1 - Key Stakeholders Workshops: The activity leads and secured partners of the four activities of the HASS RDC and Indigenous research capability program will participate in two workshops. The workshops will assist in the development of plans for the HASS RDC as a coherent whole that identifies opportunities for collaboration or integration across the activities, capitalises on existing data collections, adheres to the F.A.I.R. principles, develops collaborative tools, utilises shared underlying infrastructure and has appropriate governance planning in place.
Draft project plans, for each activity, incorporating shared areas of development, will be developed after the workshops.
Project plans for the HASS RDC and Indigenous research capabilities program should be closely aligned with the NCRIS principles.
Phase 2 - Facilitation: The activity leads will conduct roundtable discussions with potential partners and other stakeholders to seek feedback on the draft project plans. The roundtables will gather advisory panel members, researchers, existing partners, organisations, departmental representatives and other parties who have registered their interest in the HASS RDC and Indigenous research capability program to discuss requirements and priorities for the projects. The roundtable discussions and feedback received will be worked into new iterations of the project plans by the activity leads. The project plans will be shared with the advisory panel to ensure that feedback gathered from the roundtable discussions has been reasonably incorporated into the final project plans.
Phase 3 - Final Project plans: The activity leads will submit final project plans, incorporating findings and feedback from the facilitation phase, to the ARDC. Project plans should incorporate work packages and co-investment that are congruous with the concept of the HASS RDC as a coherent whole.
A standard back-office management approach is taken to managing the flow of work and supporting the Socialisation and Solicitation activities. The ARDC will capture the consultations as Salesforce entries to provide an audit trail.
The ARDC is committed to an assessment process that has a high degree of rigour and impartiality. The project will acquire approval from:
- The ARDC Board
- The ARDC CEO
- The ARDC HASS RDC Program Manager
Assessment of the project plans will be systematically tied to ARDC strategy, principles and culture and informed by the NCRIS principles.
Subject to the ARDC Delegations of Authority, the CEO’s recommendation or decision will be tabled with the ARDC Board whose role is to be satisfied that the policies of the ARDC are being followed within the culture and parameters set by the Board.
At this point, the ARDC’s decision can be made public and will be final.
To ensure transparency, final project plans will be published on the ARDC website.
The pdf of the document "Recommendations for co-investment in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Research Data Commons program" is available here.
Published 28 July 2021. Last updated 29 July 2021. Approved by Jenny Fewster, ARDC.
1. Grossman, R. L., Heath, A., Murphy, M., Patterson, M., & Wells, W. (2016). A Case for Data Commons: Toward Data Science as a Service. Computing in science & engineering, 18(5), 10-20
Registration of interest
If you are interested in being part of the roundtable discussions please register your interest by completing the form below. We will provide further information on next steps in the facilitation process to those that have registered and all relevant stakeholders.