The NLeSC eScience users’ survey: learnings from actually asking actual users about actual use

Mr Guido Aben1

1AARNet, Kensington, Australia,


Consensus is developing among eScience policy makers, both domestically as well as overseas, that future eScience policy must contain provisions to more robustly evaluate eScience deliverables; both immediately upon delivery as well as at set intervals after delivery. Typically among the suggested indicators we find metrics about user acceptance, tool penetration and similar “social” values. Up to this point, however, few institutions or service providers (let alone countries) have actually executed any large-scale surveys to gather baseline data on performance, acceptance and penetration of their existing portfolio, nor have any large-scale surveys (as opposed to one-on-one interviews; the more traditional method) been executed canvassing expectations and predictions of research infrastructure users (across domains) and usage (at all capacity levels).

We are aware of one exception to this: the 2016 Netherlands eScience Centre survey, which was conducted during Q4 2015 and presented February 2016, across a (highly significant) population of 1048 respondents (9% of the population canvassed).

On the proviso that Dutch eScience policy and execution has commonalities with Australian national research infrastructure policy, this survey and its attendant report summary are a veritable treasure trove of insights and learnings, as well as a number of sobering observations about the efficacy and uptake of eScience tools, services, and platforms up to this point.

The lightning talk aims to present a few salient points, and alert people to the availability of an English translation of the 2016 Netherlands eScience Centre survey report.


Guido Aben is AARNet’s director of eResearch.

In his current role at AARNet, Guido is responsible for building services to researchers’ demand, and generating demand for said services, with CloudStor perhaps the most widely known of those.

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