Re-Connecting with researchers: Assessing the effectiveness of eResearch training

Mr Aidan Wilson1, Dr Weisi Chen1, Dr Frankie Stevens1

1Intersect Australia, Sydney, Australia,,,


Since Intersect began training researchers in eResearch tools and techniques, training has become a core component of the services provided to its growing membership. In that time we have trained more than 6500 researchers in over 650 courses at 14 universities and 6 state and federal government agencies, across 4 states and territories.

The training portfolio at Intersect has grown in breadth of subject matter as well as in the number of researchers trained. In 2017, our training catalogue includes 18 courses including data analysis and cleaning applications, high-performance computing, databases, several programming languages, research data management techniques and machine learning. This year, Intersect partnered with the Software Carpentry Foundation so that our members can benefit from this growing global community. Also this year, Intersect has worked in close collaboration with its members to assist them in responding some of the key findings outlined in the 2016 ACOLA Review of Australia’s Research Training System, by providing graduates with the ability to obtain digital literacy and research skills by selecting from a range of courses directly applicable to research and transferable to the workplace. Intersect’s HDR DIgital research program allows graduates to obtain essential digital competencies both required, and nowadays expected, by future employers.

While we survey participants upon course completion, we have very little opportunity to connect with researchers who have attended our courses later in their careers. As a corollary, we simply do not know to what extent the training we provide is incorporated into the researcher’s regular practice. To that end, in recent months, Intersect sought to further determine the level of sustained knowledge imparted through its training portfolio; to assess whether training in eResearch tools has assisted researchers, and whether they feel they have enough training provided for them.

This presentation will share our approach to training and lessons learned with the eResearch community with the aim that organisations and training providers can continue to build effective training platforms for the research community.


Dr. Weisi Chen is currently Intersect’s eResearch Analyst for University of Technology Sydney and coordinator of Intersect’s training activites. With more than 4 years of eResearch training experience, Weisi has expertise in a broad range of eResearch techniques and how eResearch training and the establishment of Hacky Hour can enhance research efficiency by improving researchers’ capability of using technologies. Weisi has a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and Technology from the Zhejiang University and a PhD in Computer Science and a PhD in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Weisi has previously worked as an academic and software engineer at UNSW where software architecture for eResearch data analysis was his main research focus, and has also been involved in a number of research projects in various domains.

Dr. Frankie Stevens is currently Intersect’s eResearch Analyst for Southern Cross University. Dr. Frankie Stevens has previously held roles with the national Research Data Storage Infrastructure (RDSI) Project and as eResearch Programme Manager at the University of Sydney. Frankie has 20 years experience working in the higher education sector in Australia and overseas. Frankie’s expertise involves developing strong relationships between research communities, local, state and national eResearch infrastructure initiatives and has involved broad awareness raising and promotion of expert capabilities for the Australian research sector. Frankie holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours), majoring in biology with European studies (French) from the University of Sussex, and a PhD in cell biochemistry (Cancer Research) from the University of Manchester. Frankie is a published academic, and also holds a number of project and programme management qualifications.