Digital Infrastructure in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Australia – What now and where to next?

Ms Alexis Tindall1, Mr Greg D’Arcy2, Ms Ingrid Mason3

1eRSA, Adelaide, Australia

2The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

3Australia’s Academic and Research Network (AARNet), Canberra, Australia



This BoF is intended to occur in two parts – a presentation on the current HASS DEVL project, then a BoF discussion on the future of HASS infrastructure in Australia.

The Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) infrastructure landscape is characterised by high value but fragmented data, tools and services. The HASS Data Enhanced Virtual Lab (HASS DEVL) establishes workflows across national capabilities and research institutions with the aim of creating a more cohesive and interoperable landscape.

The 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap highlighted the collaboration and integration prioritised need to make dispersed data sets more easily discoverable, accessible and researchable. Greater interoperability across data platforms and the research projects consuming and establishing data is a core goal of this project. As a consequence, the HASS community will directly benefit from the provision of national tools, improved and documented data curation standards, and improved workflows.

The project specifically targets the social sciences, linguistics, and historical studies but the data curation and interoperability frameworks ensure applicability to all HASS disciplines involving the collection of historical records, archival research, transcription, text analysis, mapping and geospatial data. Project outcomes will also broadly benefit research users of TROVE, ADA and AURIN.

But where to from here?

Part One: The HASS DEVL

The panel will discuss the work undertaken in 2018 on the HASS DEVL infrastructure, elaborating on both processes and outcomes.

This section will include lightning presentations from:

  • Workbench design and development
  • Data curation
  • Skills and training

Part Two: Future eResearch directions for HASS

A facilitated discussion sharing and responding to consultation findings, sharing our experience of project delivery across a dispersed collaborative team, and looking forward at key research infrastructure challenges for HASS.

Discussion will explore the following:

  • Challenges in development of data infrastructure that enables diverse HASS disciplines, including identifying need, ensuring accessibility, and sustainability
  • Working across a dispersed team
  • Current and future users of HASS research infrastructure – what are the tools already in use and what will be needed next? What happens after this project? What do researchers need?


Alexis, Greg and Ingrid lead the three streams of activity under the ARDC funded Humanities Arts and Social Sciences Data Enhanced Virtual Laboratory (HASS DEVL). They are working with a dispersed collaborative team representing twelve organisations to deliver a workbench environment for digital research tools, explore common issues of platform interoperability and develop a data curation framework and put together a package of skillbuilding opportunities as part of the DEVL.

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