The ARDC reflects on eResearch Australasia

Categorised: News

eResearch world mapeResearch Australasia is a highlight in the calendar for the eResearch community each year, and the 2021 conference did not disappoint. Almost 550 people registered for the event, representing a large proportion of the eResearch community across Australia and New Zealand.

The ARDC was well represented at the conference, and presented a number of sessions in collaboration with our partners across the eResearch sector. It was great to see the valuable partnerships between the eResearch sector so prominent during the jam-packed week.

We share some reflections from the ARDC staff who attended eResearch Australasia in October 2021. Many of the talks were recorded and available to event registrants for 3 months so we encourage you to go back and view the sessions you couldn’t attend live.

Rosie Hicks, CEO of ARDC said, “It was great to see the engagement and leadership of the ARDC staff right across the week.”

Dr Lesley Wyborn, Research Data Strategist observed, “The absolute diversity of what is going on in eResearch in Australia came across over the week.”

A recent starter at ARDC, Gnana Bharathy, Research Data Specialist (AI/ML), said that it was particularly helpful to someone new to eResearch. “The eResearch Australasia conference was helpful to get an overview of things happening across multiple organisations, both nationally and internationally. ”

Sengor Kusturica, DevOps Manager for the ARDC Nectar Research Cloud Core Services said the conference was a great opportunity “for social networking and exploring what is happening around the institutions.”

Bringing the training community together: ARDC Digital Skills Research summit

For the first time, the ARDC Digital Research Skills Summit was held as part of the eResearch Australasia conference, creating new and exciting collaboration opportunities within the research support community.

The summit brought together the digital research skills community to share best-practice and guide strategy, providing a necessary forum for skills communities to network, exchange knowledge, build skills, share new initiatives, celebrate success and work together on common challenges.

The summit launched 2 exciting initiatives during the conference:

  1. DReSA: a portal for digital research training in Australasia
  2. Carpentries partnership for Australia to uplift digital research skills

Liz Stokes, Skills Specialist, reflected, “The Skills Summit provided an energising lift in the middle of a week long virtual conference. I was blown away by the enthusiasm of our participants to contribute great ideas and reflect on community collaborations.

“On Friday, the shout out to the ARDC Skills Model from Mike Leggot, Executive Director of Research Data Canada, was particularly validating for the ARDC Skills Team. This was a huge week for us: we hosted the Skills Summit, launched our national training portal DReSA, and announced the Australian Carpentries Partnership with 10 organisational partners. We’re very pleased to be part of these great initiatives. I’m looking forward to the follow up events, Skills Impact and Strategy regroup on 27 October, and our Carpentries Connect Australia community event on 3 November, which are free to attend.

“In 2021, Auckland, Perth, Queensland and Sydney ResBaz organisers proved that by sharing infrastructure we can build on each other’s successes. The ResBaz Birds of a feather (BoF) session confirmed that good opportunities arose from challenges of running ResBaz collaborative training events online. I’m looking forward to integrating ResBaz events in DReSA and supporting community collaborations with smart platforms. Check out the upcoming ResBaz Sydney and ResBaz Queensland.”

Cross-NCRIS collaboration

Kerry Levett, Platforms Program Manager said, “There was strong evidence of the Digital Data and eResearch Platforms national infrastructure partners working closely together (and with other infrastructure partners), particularly in the excellent “eResearch Infrastructure Panel” plenary session, but also throughout the oral presentations. For example, Australian BioCommons working with Pawsey Supercomputing Centre on HPC-ready bioinformatics workflows; AAF working with ARDC platforms projects Coordinated Access for Data, Researchers and Environments (CADRE) and BioCommons BYOD Expansion Project; and AARNet working with Biocommons on Globus.”

Driving data-driven mindsets to change our world with Rathana Chea

A highlight for ARDC staff was the keynote by Rathana Chea, who has worked in change making for international non-governmental organisations and inter-governmental agencies for over 20 years. Rathana shared how “the power of driving data-driven mindsets can transform organisations that transform our world.”

Dr Andrew Treloar, Director of Platforms and Software said, “I found the keynote from Rathana Chea both inspiring and humbling - the Head/Heart/Hands/Home model for change is one I’m going to try and internalise in the change we are seeking to bring about in my work on platforms and software.”

Research Platforms max out the Zoom room

Kerry Levett said there was a really strong Research Platforms presence at eRA this year. “ARDC facilitated a BoF session on “The current state and future potential of Australian research platforms” where 8 ARDC platform projects presented lightning talks. It was attended by more than 100 highly-engaged participants from across the country, and across the research data lifecycle. Four ARDC platform projects also ran their own BoFs, and there were 16 oral presentations on the projects by various project partners showcasing the breadth of impact these projects will have.

eResearch Data Systems Analyst Jon Smillie said, “The Research Platforms BoF generated enough thoughts and ideas to keep the platforms team analysing the raw data for some time yet; and multiple seeds for deeper coverage in the TechTalks Community of Practice for eResearch technical specialists in the near future. If you’re keen to know more, sign up for the TechTalks Community of Practice.

Strong presence of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS)

Jenny Fewster, Program Manager, HASS Research Data Commons said, “It was really heartening to see such a strong HASS and galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM) presence at this year’s eResearch conference. The BoF we held on “Building capability to increase uptake of digital research infrastructure in HASS and Indigenous research practice” had 77 people in attendance, which is very high for a HASS related session. HASS Research Data Commons Activity leads also gave papers. Tim Sherratt gave a paper about his GLAM workbench and Sydney University Library also represented the GLAM sector.”

Elevating Research Software

Dr Paula Andrea Martinez said, “From ~500 registered attendees to the conference, having ~70 of them in the BOF Data is only Half the Battle was a great achievement. We co-led a session with 3 other institutional representatives (UoM, UQ, UNSW). It was informative and engaging. ”

Liz Stokes said, “Collaborating to produce the Data is only Half the Battle BoF was genuinely exciting, and a strong engagement with research software authors. One important reflection was recognising that a key challenge of making reproducible or portable (research software) workflows is community effort.”

Making the most of the Research Data Alliance

Dr Stefanie Kethers, Senior Business Analyst and Director of Operations for the Research Data Alliance and hosted at ARDC said, “The “Making the most of Research Data Alliance (RDA)” BoF was well-attended (30+ attendees including speakers) and generated a good discussion. We hope to see more new faces at the RDA Virtual Plenary (3-11 November 2021)!”

The Future of Meetings: an exploration of how to build conference community

Dr Stefanie Kethers said “It was also great to hear the positive comments my co-organisers and I got for the “The future of meetings: an exploration of how to build conference community” BoF run in gather.town. Attendees enjoyed gather.town and its more spatial feel. Apart from the gather.town space, the little demo videos produced by the team also contributed to the success of the BoF.”

Keep up the momentum for digital research skills by registering now for our Carpentries Connect Australia community event on 3 November.

Compiled by Jo Savill (ARDC) from contributions from ARDC team members.

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