Current and Future Directions for Digital Infrastructure in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Australia BoF

Dr Steven McEachern1, , Dr Tully Barnett2, Associate Professor Shawn Ross3, Ms Amanda Lawrence4, Ms Sarah Nisbet5, Mr Malcolm Wolski6

1ANU, Canberra, Australia,

2Flinders University, Australia,

3Australia, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia,

4Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia,

5eRSA, Adelaide, Australia,

6Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia,


HASS is a multidisciplinary grouping that represents significant domain specialisation, interdisciplinarity, and transdisciplinarity. This BoF is intended to occur in two parts – a presentation on current infrastructures in the HASS community, and a guided BoF discussion on the future of HASS infrastructure in Australia.

Part One: Current HASS infrastructures

The panel will discuss examples of the current infrastructures in HASS and look at what works/doesn’t work for researchers from across archaeology, social science, arts and humanities with regards to building, getting access to or managing research infrastructure. The panel will describe their experiences with research infrastructure successes, gaps, failures, and opportunities.

This section will include lightning presentations from:

  1. The Field Acquired Information Management Systems Project – FAIMS (Shawn Ross, Macquarie University) –
  • The Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres – ACHRC (Tully Barnett, Flinders University)
  • The Human Communication Science Virtual Lab – ALVEO (Steve Cassidy, Macquarie University)
  • Analysis & Policy Observatory –  (Amanda Lawrence, Swinburne University)
  • The Australian Data Archive (Steven McEachern, Australian National University) –
  • Prosecutions Project and Cultures and Communities (Mark Finnane, Griffith University, Sarah Nisbet, eRSA, Malcolm Wolski, Griffith University)

Part Two: Future eResearch requirements for HASS

The panel will then facilitate an open discussion around the future eResearch needs for HASS. We will be looking to frame a discussion around how we can address and respond to the key challenges as we work towards the Platforms for HASS described in the NCRIS roadmap.

We hope the BoF discussions will address and create a dialogue across the following:

  • Data infrastructure development enabling diverse HASS types, exchange and integration in support of HASS research
    • eResearch / data needs of HASS researchers (not easier, just different…).
    • ‘Small data’ research.
    • Getting beyond the early adopter –> early majority ‘chasm’ in the uptake of digital tools.
  • Platform interoperability enabling more interoperability between platforms and tools to aid with data sharing and more efficient use of informatics tools.
  • Deeper collaboration across HASS and with government stakeholders that may be research partners and critical data holders or the beneficiaries of translational research.



Dr. Steven McEachern is Director and Manager of the Australian Data Archive at the Australian National University, where he is responsible for the daily operations and technical and strategic development of the archive. He has high-level expertise in survey methodology and data archiving, and for over fifteen years has been actively involved in the development and application of survey research methodology and technologies in the Australian university sector.

Associate Professor Shawn Ross is Director, Data Science and eResearch, Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), and Associate Professor of History and Archaeology, Director, Field Acquired Information Management Systems (FAIMS) Project at Macquarie University.

Tully Barnett is a Research Fellow in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Flinders University in South Australia. She is Associate Director of the Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres and a member of the executive board of the Australasian Association of Digital Humanities. Her research applies a critical infrastructures approach to understanding the practices of reading and literary communication in the context of digitalisation (both digitisation and the born digital). Her research fellowship is for the project Laboratory Adelaide: The Value of Culture, investigating the notion of value in culture beyond easily analysable metrics within the context of comparative cultural policy. She is the author of “The Human Trace in Google Books” in Border Crossings (2016), “Platforms for Social Reading: Material Imagery in Digital Book Formats” in Scholarly and Research Communication (2015), and she is co-author of “Counting culture to death: an Australian perspective on culture counts and quality metrics” in Cultural Trends (2017).

ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0269-5814

Amanda Lawrence is Research and Strategy Manager at Policy Online and Research Manager of the ARC Linkage project ‘Grey literature strategies: enhancing the value of research and information for public policy and practice’. She is currently completing a PhD in Communications and Media at the Swinburne Institute for Social Research. She has a Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Management from RMIT University and an Arts Degree with Honours from the University of Melbourne. Prior to moving into the library and information sector Amanda worked in literary arts management and bookselling.

ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2194-8178

Sarah Nisbet is eRSA’s Chief Operations Officer. Sarah has a Bachelor of Media from the University of Adelaide and an Industry Certificate (Festival & Event Design & Management), she is also a member of the Australian Science Communicators and the Public Relations Institute of Australia. Sarah is currently the Project Manager of the Australian National Cultures and Community Project, which is looking to enable better data sharing and discoverability between researchers and archives.

Malcolm Wolski is the Director, eResearch Services at Griffith University. Malcolm is a part of the senior leadership team providing library, information and IT services at Griffith University.  In his role, he is responsible for the development, management and delivery of eResearch services to the University’s research community, which includes the associated information management systems, applications, infrastructure, high performance computing, data management as well as a small media production service. These services are delivered through an integrated service delivery team by working closely his colleagues in the library and enterprise IT. More recent projects and other activities have involved working closely with national and international organisations, including groups such as NeCTAR, ANDS and he is a member of the Organisational Assembly Board of the Research Data Alliance. Malcolm has a background in IT, library, strategic planning and operations research.

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