Institutional Underpinnings

Coordinating research data management across Australian universities.
A person with a tablet in a corridor at a data center, checking hardware on server racks

The Challenge

Australia’s university sector produces more world-class research than you’d expect from a population of our size. Yet each institution manages its research data in different ways and to different standards. Even within a university, faculties and schools often differ in their research data management practices.

This uncoordinated approach to research data management makes it harder for universities to share data, creating barriers to collaborative research and the creation of national data assets. It also means that universities are each trying to address the same challenges in parallel, rather than pooling their efforts and expertise.

The Approach

In partnership with 25 Australian universities, we’ve created a jointly agreed Research Data Management Framework for Institutions to manage, share, retain and dispose of research data. Each institution is undertaking activities to validate and test an aspect of the framework in its local contexts.

The Institutional Underpinnings program is part of our National Data Assets program.

Framework Co-Design

In Phase 1 of the Institutional Underpinnings program, 25 Australian universities came together to jointly develop the first draft of the framework. Through a co-design process, the participants identified 16 priority elements the framework should cover and selected 8 of those elements for immediate focus. Priority elements were based on:

  • importance for institutions
  • ability to nominate experts who could provide institutional advice
  • whether institutions were likely to test or validate these draft outputs.

Working groups were formed with 95 experts from the participating universities to develop the content of these priority elements.


25 Australian universities and the ARDC worked collaboratively to develop the joint framework for research data management at institutions. Working groups were formed with 95 experts from the participating universities to develop the content for the framework.

As part of developing the joint framework, each participating institution conducted a project that tested or validated an aspect of the framework.

Our 25 partners are:

  • Australian National University
  • Bond University
  • Charles Darwin University
  • Curtin University
  • Edith Cowan University
  • Federation University Australia
  • Griffith University
  • Macquarie University
  • Monash University
  • QUT
  • Swinburne University of Technology
  • The University of Queensland
  • University of Adelaide
  • University of Canberra
  • University of Melbourne
  • University of New England
  • University of New South Wales
  • University of Southern Queensland
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Tasmania
  • University of Technology Sydney
  • University of Western Australia
  • University of Wollongong
  • Victoria University
  • Western Sydney University.

The Outcomes

The Research Data Management Framework for Institutions

On 21 February 2023, we launched the Research Data Management Framework for Institutions. The new national framework for institutional research data management (RDM) can help universities and research organisations create a data-rich institutional approach to research. Download the framework.

Reusable Outputs for RDM at Institutions

As part of developing the framework, the 25 universities participating tested elements of the framework in its local context. View and download the outputs.

Institutional Underpinnings Research Data Management Network

To extend the Institutional Underpinnings program, the ARDC established the Institutional Underpinnings Research Data Management Network (IU RDM Network). Learn more about the network and its goals.

Do you have questions about the Institutional Underpinnings program? Use the form below to contact us.

Contact the ARDC

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