Informatics from Pilot to HASS Platform (SCIP)

Lyle Winton1, Greg D’Arcy2, Mitchell Harrop3, Geordie Zhang4

1 The University of Melbourne,

2 The University of Melbourne,

3 The University of Melbourne,

4 The University of Melbourne,



The Social and Cultural Informatics Platform “SCIP” has been responding to demand and growth in the digital humanities, arts, and social sciences (HASS) at the University of Melbourne since 2015 [4]. SCIP is an expert based “research platform” that provides the necessary informatics skills and develops technology platforms to support researchers, research students and research projects. SCIP consists of a core informatics team and partner network to support a broad range of research activities from researcher consultations, workshops and training, through to deeper partnerships on prioritised research projects [1, 2].  SCIP specialises in exploring and applying technology typically working in the areas of research data management, online/web resources and collections, data analytics and informatics, visualisation and digitisation.  Activity over the recent year has included over 200 expert consultations, work on 20 prioritised projects and 6 technical platforms [3], over 20 workshops and outreach events, and significant involvement in the full grant lifecycle (application, planning, execution and dissemination) supporting over $3M in ARC projects.

The SCIP platform governance involves faculty based academic leaders (our chief investigators), representatives from faculty research offices and representatives from the funding partners.  The SCIP Working Group forms an expert advisory layer meets regularly to discuss and coordinate collaboration on new projects, to plan joint activities such as training and outreach, and to jointly address the challenges faced by projects and researchers. The working group consists of representatives from each of the SCIP network partners (eScholarship Research Centre, University Digitisation Centre, Research Platform Services, the library Digital Scholarship unit, the library Research Publications and Programs unit, Arts and MGSE faculty and subject liaison librarians, University of Melbourne Archives, and the Faculty of Arts Digital Studio).

SCIP has evolved from a pilot to an operating model that includes a balanced program of informatics support and development activities.  The model prioritises:

  1. Expert support – walk-in contact locations, face to face consultations, email
  • Priority projects – core team coordinated activity, sourced from a range of activities, brokering expertise, services and platforms
  • Platform development – to develop or improve re-usable technology platforms, grounded in supporting multiple research projects. Our platforms include Omeka, Mediaflux, cultural mapping and visualization, digitisation, advanced data analysis (HPC), and data-in-the-field tools.
  • Training and workshops – working together with partners to both lead and contribute to events (eg. Research Bazaar)
  • National platforms engagement – importing and supporting national platforms for local researchers
  • ARC grant cycle support – in application for grants, in planning for technology and informatics, and in execution

Come along to our presentation to hear:

  • How we’ve developed an operating model together with Faculty and expert partners;
  • How we’re working together with Faculty to uplift the Digital HASS capability;
  • How we support current needs and developing technology platforms for emerging areas;
  • How we measure our performance and impact;
  • Examples of SCIP research projects and platform developments;
  • Our planned future activities, developments and collaborations.


  1. “About SCIP”, SCIP website,
  2. “SCIP Informatics Team”, SCIP website,
  3. “SCIP Projects & Activities”, SCIP website,
  4. Neish, P., Murray, A. & Konstantelos, L. (2015) “The role of research data repositories in social and cultural informatics and the wider open data ecosystem” eResearch Australasia Conference, Brisbane, Australia, 19th-23rd October, 2015. Available:



Dr Lyle Winton has over 15 years of experience in research infrastructure having worked within universities and on state, national, and international initiatives. Lyle also has a research background in experimental physics involving large-scale collaborations, with significant challenges in sharing knowledge, data and computational power. Currently Lyle is the Manager of Digital Scholarship within the University of Melbourne Library, as well as the Manager of an informatics platform supporting digital research in Arts and Education. These activities involve the development and evolution of services and platforms to support research in the digital age.

Greg D’Arcy has over 15 years’ experience working with research data management, digital repositories, and publishing open resources and datasets. He has managed programs and projects with government agencies, not-for-profit organisations, the cultural sector (Art Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums), charities and digital producers. Greg has lectured at RMIT, Monash University and Victoria University, and holds the qualifications of Master of Business and Master of Technology.

Dr Mitchell Harrop is a Humanities and Social Sciences Informatics Specialist in the Social and Cultural Informatics Platform (SCIP) at The University of Melbourne. Mitchell’s PhD research involved ethnographic studies of digital game playing and was conducted within Melbourne University’s Computing and Information Systems department. He has lectured in Informatics, Database Systems and Web Information Technologies.

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