Appreciating the ‘Method to the madness’ in Research; Optimizing the Madness via eResearch Technology

Miss Amanda Miotto1

1Griffith University, Nathan, Brisbane, Australia,



This presentation aims to highlight the value of documenting the processes for research groups: Working alongside researchers to map out their processes for their workflow pipelines, with the goal of preemptively identifying potential issues and opening up possibilities using technology to accelerate their research.

In our experience most research groups work organically- small groups working on two or three problems at the same time, all interlinked but each group looking at unique questions and often for an answer that leads itself to more questions. It can be difficult to maintain efficient and methodical workflows when you are often heading in a number of directions at the same time, uncertain where your question will lead you.

Our aim is to gain an understanding about their workflows and highlight areas where technology can enable and accelerate research. Sitting with the researchers on the ground floor, we work together to gain an understanding around their research path, map their process and data workflow and expand their documentation.

Introducing someone with a fresh perspective, without assumptions, can bring new viewpoints to problems and offer ‘out of the box’ thinking. This can illuminate areas that have previously needed to be complicated or flexible but on re-evaluation have stabilized and are ready for optimization. These interactions can also spark the conversation regarding relevant emerging eResearch technology which can enable new revenues of outcomes and collaborations; as well as highlighting appropriate data management.

Mapping these processes and data flow can have further benefits. Having proper documentation can assist new staff coming into the team, technical groups needing current infrastructure information, offer transparency for managers and audits, encourage reproducible and responsible research and reduce the knowledge lost when contracts finish or students move on.

To complicate matters, when researchers have the time to invest in their data management, it’s often difficult to know where to start. Solutions can err on either side of extremely broad or far too specialized and intricate. Then there is the paradox of when to implement a data management plan. In the beginning of a research project, there may be not enough information about future data to form a data management plan, however further down the research lifecycle there may be an overwhelmingly diverse stockpile of data to keep track of. These discussions on workflow lead to suggestions in data management resources and provides ready-made documentation for data librarians.

In this session, we will share our experiences and lessons learnt; moving on to an open discussion regarding the experiences of others. This talk would be of interest to researchers, managers and supporting staff.



Amanda Miotto is an eResearch Support Specialist and Software Developer for Griffith University. She started off in the field of BioInformatics and learnt to appreciate the beauty of science before discovering the joys of coding. She is heavily involved in Software Carpentry, Hacky Hours and Research Bazaar, and has worked on platforms around HPC, microscopy & scientific database portals; as well as engagement with research groups  highlighting relevant upcoming technologies.

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