Leveraging projects for institution-wide benefit – Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised

Dr Andrew Williams1, Ms Eva Fisch1Simon Huggard1

1La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia


It was only comparatively recently that the value of researchers’ datasets and the need for those datasets to be organized and discoverable has been widely recognized. At La Trobe University, we are addressing these challenges through key projects and partnerships with academics, ICT, and the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) to develop a new technical infrastructure and to generate cultural change. The key components of our scheme to date include:

The University Digital Research Strategy, which philosophically underpins these plans through its four main goals:

  • Enable researchers to actively engage with information and computing technologies
  • Develop Digital Research expertise among researchers within the University
  • Proactively enhance institutional research capabilities
  • Maximise the use and enable proper management and curation of research data

Sustainable and successful ANDS (Australian National Data Service) High Value Collections Program projects:

In a recent ANDS-funded project, HubZero has been implemented to facilitate publication of and interaction with x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) research data by a surface science research community. The imperative of ANDS funding has also given La Trobe the opportunity to explore the complementary potential of two genomics browsers. The Degust browser was developed by the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Centre and facilitates discovery of known genes using known gene names. The eFP browser was originally developed at the University of Toronto and is suited to analysing expression of known genes. The resulting publication and visualisation platform using these tools is now offered as part of La Trobe genomics platforms suite of services.  In this presentation we will discuss how the partnership in these projects worked to:

  • implement a custom metadata schema and custom data visualisation widgets
  • engage with industry – influencing the direction of instrument development through data publication
  • engage with the research discipline through publishing a large reference dataset
  • amplify the researcher’s voice in a technical development project
  • strengthen the role of the data librarian in a project enabling researcher engagement with the community
  • leverage boutique projects for institution-wide benefit.

The University ERDMS (Enterprise research data management system) project:

The Library and ICT are working together in a three year project to implement an Enterprise Research Data Management System, developing and building the University’s capacity to collect, curate and disseminate research data underpinning research outputs.

The open platforms used will enable the University to better manage research data outputs, in line with its obligations to under the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, in line with our research data management policy, as well as anticipated future requirements of funding agencies to require researchers to provide a research data management plan and to publish research datasets in the public domain. Software being considered, trialed, or put in place include:

  • research data management plans ( ReDBox)
  • CloudSTOR
  • Hubzero
  • eMU
  • Lab Archives
  • eFP and Degust browsers

The system will also enable researchers to improve the management and tracking of their own research, collaborate more easily with internal and external research partners, and provide a safe, backed up and fully managed environment in which to manage their data.  A concomitant cultural change in the University is also required and will be supported.

These projects together are testing, piloting and implementing a suite of systems, software, services and tools to streamline and simplify researchers’ data management needs.



Simon Huggard is Deputy Director, Research & Collections at La Trobe University Library. He has worked at a number of other institutions including Monash University and the State Library of Victoria. He is responsible for two major portfolios in the Library: Research and Collections. The Research team provide services to researchers to help use electronic resources , databases and print collections, as well as providing research impact reports, advice on open access, publication through the institutional repository and assistance with annual publication collection and research data management. The collections team manage La Trobe University library’s search and management systems, reading list software, acquisition and management of all of our resources and collections and interlibrary loans. I am interested in how others provide maximum benefit for students, staff and all of our users in accessing resources and managing research data in an effective way.

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