The social practice of online research networking

Dr Sara King1, Dr Linda Pearce2, Dr Diana Newport-Peace3, Dr Tully Barnett3, Ms Mary Filsell3, Ms Alexis Tindall4, Ms Ashley Dennis-Henderson4

1AARNet, Adelaide, Australia
2UniSA, Adelaide, Australia
3Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
4University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia

The Adelaide Digital Humanities group is an informal group of university and Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) sector professionals with a shared interest in the Digital Humanities (DH). The group emerged in 2018 from ongoing engagement of a core of individuals in multiple DH and eResearch projects across the GLAM sector and three universities.

Momentum built through 2019 and would likely have developed further in 2020, even without COVID-19 and related challenges. But a shift to online has certainly changed how the group operates and provided new opportunities for online collaboration that we did not foresee. The demise of other projects and difficulties of national and international networking brought about a new energy and desire for local support, experimentation and discovery.

Considering this experience through Social Practice Theory, a number of factors underpin this success:

1) the purpose of the group was established and reinforced during lockdown;

2) the members of the group welcomed new ways of connecting;

3) the rules of the group extended to the online community through an inclusive culture and meeting etiquette.

In addition, the group leveraged the ongoing benefits of investment in eResearch and DH initiatives nationally and internationally demonstrating the value of such investment occurs beyond the initial frame of work.

As the group moves to formalise itself as a fledgling community of practice, this BoF invites colleagues to reflect on and discuss the characteristics of successful online networking models, to share good practice and identify and discuss the pitfalls.


Dr Sara King is the Training and Engagement Lead for AARNet. She is focused on outreach within the research sector, developing communities of interest around training, outreach and skills development in eResearch. She is currently working on creating reusable guidance information for Jupyter Notebooks and other AARNet services to be adapted for Carpentry training workshops. She is passionate about helping others develop the infrastructure and digital literacies required for working in a data-driven world, translating technology so it is accessible to everyone.

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