Baseline Researcher Access to Public Sector Data

Measuring researcher access to public sector data and assessing the gap between demand and supply
People crossing street
Who will benefit
Researchers needing access to public sector data, custodians considering requests to access

The Challenge

Public sector data is highly valued by researchers as it:

  • already exists and could be readily reused rather than having to be re-collected
  • covers the whole nation and usually an extended period of time
  • is authoritative, having been created under legal or policy mandates
  • reflects issues known to be of concern to the government and society.

In recognition of the value of public sector data, there has been advocacy for policy reforms to improve researcher access to public sector data for more than 20 years. But to date, there is no trusted measure of where improvements to access have occurred, where gaps remain and the consequences of both on researchers and society.

The Response

This project will baseline current levels of access by researchers to public sector data through surveys of both researchers and public sector data custodians. It will contribute an extensible methodology for future evaluation over time, across sectors and internationally.

The project will quantify the current state of access, assessing the gap between demand and supply. These numbers will be accompanied by real stories of the impact on the broader society as well as researchers.

Researcher Survey: Access to Public Sector Data

During February 2024, researchers are invited to complete an online survey to share their experience accessing public sector data. The survey is anonymous, and will take around 10 to15 minutes to complete.

The survey closes on Wednesday 28 February 2024.

Who Will Benefit

This project is part of the ARDC’s Policy Program, which advocates for coherent data policies necessary to accelerate innovation and foster collaboration between Australian and international researchers, governments and industry.

Results of this project will inform the ARDC as well as government custodians of areas that are working well and those that need further reform as to the level of researcher access to public sector data. This will inform planning and investment in the future for data and digital infrastructure as well as policy advocacy efforts.

The outputs will provide benchmark timeframes, expected level of effort and likelihood of success for future research teams planning to gain access to public sector data.

The Partner

The ARDC is working with Lateral Economics to complete this project. The team includes:

  • Dr Nicholas Gruen (CEO)
  • Gene Tunny (Senior Associate)
  • Joe Branigan (Senior Associate)
  • Sue Holz (Market Research Expert).

Target Outcomes

The intended outcomes of the project are:

  • a reusable methodology for measuring researcher access to public sector data over time, ideally developed in a way that also enables international comparisons
  • empirical support for the ongoing advocacy efforts of the ARDC Policy Program
  • informing the ARDC of risks to programs reliant on access to public sector data
  • assessment of the total transaction costs, value and impact of accessing public sector data for both researchers and public sector data custodians.

Contact the ARDC

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