HASS and Indigenous Research Data Commons

Accelerating the impact of HASS and Indigenous research in Australia.
HASS RDC yellow scaled

The Challenge

Humanities, arts and social sciences (HASS) and Indigenous research is research about people. It guides and informs government and community service decisions, drives innovation, creates new industries and regulatory frameworks, and helps us to understand and preserve our culture, history and heritage.

The 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap identified opportunities to accelerate the impact of HASS and Indigenous research. It recommended improving the overall coordination of research infrastructure that supports access to, and analysis of, physical and digital collections using tools such as digitisation, aggregation and interpretation platforms.

The Australian Government Department of Education subsequently commissioned 3 studies that identified a number of investment-ready programs that would benefit from National Research Infrastructure funding.

Download the scoping studies from:

While not all recommendations within those scoping studies were 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 and Indigenous Research Data Commons (RDC).

The Approach

The HASS and Indigenous RDC is accelerating research by helping institutions share data more freely, ethically and cooperatively, following the FAIR and CARE data principles as well as Indigenous data governance protocols.

The program brings together existing and ongoing investments in text analysis, cultural collections, linguistics, social sciences and Indigenous data.

The infrastructure will enhance research in a broad range of fields including:

  • linguistics
  • social sciences
  • education
  • Australian cultural studies
  • history
  • economics
  • commerce
  • tourism
  • creative arts
  • law and legal studies.


This program is guided by expert representatives from relevant national and international bodies in the HASS and Indigenous research domains.

Advisory Panel

  • Chair and representative from the Higher Education Library community – Jill Benn, University Librarian at the University of Western Australia, Chair of the Council of Australian University Librarians, Board Member of the International Association of University Libraries, Council member of the Research Data Alliance, Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
  • Academy of the Humanities representative – Policy and Research Director Dr Kylie Brass.
  • International HASS digital research infrastructure representative – Ron Dekker, Director of CESSDA ERIC, the Consortium of Social Science Data Archives, Coordinator of Social Sciences and Humanities Open Cloud, Project Leader of the European Open Science Cloud Future project.
  • Academy of Social Sciences representative – CEO Dr Chris Hatherly.
  • Representative from the researcher community – Anna Johnston, Associate Professor in English Literature in the School of Communication and Arts at The University of Queensland.
  • Indigenous research community representative – Professor Peter Radoll FRSN, Acting CEO EPIC CRC, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous and Director, Ngunnawal Centre, Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership and Strategy, University of Canberra.

Technical Advisory Group

  • Jonathan Smillie, ARDC
  • Tully Barnett, Flinders University
  • Simon Cox, CSIRO
  • Hugh Craig, University of Newcastle
  • Rachel Hendery, aaDH
  • Amanda Nixon, DSTG
  • Owen O’Neill, Freelance
  • The technical leads of this program’s 4 projects

Target Outcomes

The HASS and Indigenous RDC will produce digital platforms that will improve access to Australia’s rich HASS and Indigenous data and provide innovative analysis tools. The projects are:

1. Developing the Language Data Commons of Australia. This platform will capitalise on existing infrastructure, rescue vulnerable and dispersed collections, and link with improved analysis environments for new research outcomes.

2. Trove Researcher Platform for Advanced Research. This platform will focus on the delivery of researcher portals accessible through Trove, Australia’s unique public heritage site. The platform will create tools for visualisation, entity recognition, transcription and geocoding across Trove content and other corpora.

3. Integrated Research Infrastructure for Social Sciences. This platform will improve the capacity of researchers to access, preserve and disseminate quantitative and qualitative social sciences data sources, and will drive the development of systems and tools for capturing new and emerging real-time – or near real-time – data.

4. Improving Indigenous Research Capabilities: An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Data Commons. We are collaborating with the Indigenous Data Network at the University of Melbourne to consolidate and expand on its technological, training and governance initiatives.

5. HASS Community Data Lab. This platform will facilitate researcher access to data from important collections and archives, and provide tools and software to analyse the data.

The program is also supported by 3 integration activities. The integration activities deal with specific technical and infrastructure challenges identified by the projects. They are:

  1. Access, Authentication and Authorisation Activities (CILogon/REMS)
  2. The Gazetteer of Historic Australian Places
  3. Transforming the Online Heritage Resource Management tool to Describo Collections

Key Resources

The HASS and Indigenous RDC builds on the ARDC’s experience working in partnerships to deliver digital research infrastructure for HASS and Indigenous researchers, which has culminated in a wide range of datasets, free tools and upskilling materials. Explore these resources.

We published the decision-making framework for co-investment in the HASS Research Data Commons program in July 2021. It is being used to ensure alignment between NCRIS principles and the ARDC’s project development and project approval processes.

Download the scoping studies from:

Watch the recording of a roundtable held in September 2021, Roundtable – HASS Research Data Commons and Indigenous Research Capability Program – Sept 2021.

Read the Trove Researcher Consultation Report.