Social media is a rich source of data that researchers from many disciplines increasingly incorporate into their research. For a number of years, many groups across Australia have independently collected significant social media holdings to serve their local research community. The Australian Digital Observatory project seeks to sustainably align and connect selected established platforms into a national infrastructure that supports an extended and diverse array of research communities.

This project will establish a national infrastructure for accessing and analysing dynamic digital data, including existing collections of national interest across Twitter, FlickR, YouTube, Reddit, Instagram and gaming platforms such as Steam.

The Australian Digital Observatory will create an interdisciplinary team of data science researchers and support staff at key locations around Australia who will offer data-related services, training, and research support in data collection, storage, tidying, pre-processing, analytics, and visualisation to support academics’ research data pipelines. These tasks can be time-consuming and often involve a steep learning curve for specific technical skills. The Australian Digital Observatory can reduce or eliminate this burden so that researchers can focus on analysis and interpretation.

Start date 31 March 2021
Expected completion date 30 June 2023
Investment by ARDC $924,960
Lead node
1 Community of Practice
An interdisciplinary community of practice will be developed by establishing hubs at partner institutions, supported by local staff, to gather researchers’ feedback and user requirements and provide targeted data and analytics training. This will build on existing training collaborations the partners have already established, and will further develop training and supporting materials covering best practices in governance, ethics, and privacy, including the nuances of using human internet data for research.
2 Databank
Building on the existing partner infrastructures for collection and analysis of dynamic digital data (including but not limited to social media data), this project will catalogue existing platforms, services, and datasets at all partner institutions, and improve accessibility to Australian researchers. The databank will operate within an appropriate ethical governance framework for research.
3 Digital Observatory
The Australian Digital Observatory (ADO) will develop and support an ecosystem of hosted platforms, tools, methods, and workflows. This ecosystem is intended to both enable researchers to access databank data and support researchers’ own collections and analytical pipelines. The ADO will offer targeted data collection capabilities and mediated access to our curated data collection. The ADO will also offer data modeling, as well as data analysis and visualisation such as topic modeling and sentiment analysis Underpinning this ecosystem will be the FAIR data principles, data governance, FAIR data and open source software principles, and the collective knowledge of the community of practice.

Core features

Dynamic Data Ecosystem
The Australian Digital Observatory will become a hub of knowledge, tools, data, and services for a variety of dynamic digital data research needs.
Community of practice
The Australian Digital Observatory will bring together researchers, projects, and platforms to share knowledge and collaborate.

Who is this project for?

  • Researchers
  • Research organisations

What does this project enable?

The Australian Digital Observatory will become a hub of knowledge, tools, data, and services for a variety of dynamic digital data research needs across a wide variety of disciplines, enabling innovative research.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT)Visit
University of Melbourne (UoM)Visit
University of New South Wales (UNSW)Visit
University of Queensland (UQ)Visit
Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation (QCIF)Visit
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