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.

Creating more opportunities for female presenters at eResearch events

Ms Jana Makar1, Ms. Megan Guidry1

1New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI), Auckland, New Zealand

In September 2020, New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI) launched a new initiative to support and celebrate the growing community of Research Software Engineers (RSEs) in Australasia. Delivered as a three-day virtual event, the 2020 NZ RSE Conference featured 34 speakers from 14 different organisations. Unfortunately, there was a significant gender imbalance, despite some efforts by the conference organisers to recruit more female presenters.

Following the event, members of the planning committee debriefed with members of the RSE community to discuss what changes could be made to create more opportunities for female speakers to present at future events. This talk will share some of the insights from that debrief. We would also like to dedicate a portion of this session for discussion amongst the session attendees to hear about others’ experiences and/or advice.


Jana Makar is the Communications Manager at New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI). Based at the University of Auckland, Jana coordinates a variety of engagement initiatives and external communications to raise the profile of NeSI’s activities, impacts, and collaborations.

Megan Guidry is the Training Coordinator at NeSI and Regional Coordinator for The Carpentries in New Zealand. Her main priority is raising the eResearch capability in New Zealand through training coordination and community building.

Extending researcher knowledge of open scholarship performance and options

Dr Katie Wilson1, Associate Professor Lucy Montgomery1,2, Professor Cameron Neylon1,2, Dr Richard Hosking1,2, Dr Chun-Kai (Karl) Huang1, Dr Alkim  Ozaygen1, Dr Rebecca N. Handcock1,2, Ms Aniek Roelofs1,2

1Centre for Culture and Technology (CCAT), Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University, Bentley, WA, 6102, Australia
2Curtin Institute for Computation (CIC), Curtin University, Bentley, WA, 6102, Australia


This study examines the impact of an open knowledge data dashboard for universities. The Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative (COKI) project, a Curtin University strategic research initiative, has collected more than 12 trillion pieces of information on university research and publication, funding and impact to understand the global performance of universities. COKI analyses open access and open data research output, collaboration and diversity in knowledge production, as critical elements of effective vibrant scholarly communication systems. To provide information COKI develops visual data dashboards, with narratives appropriate for different stakeholders.


In October 2019, COKI launched the first dashboard to universities in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. In 2020 we undertook a research survey of dashboard users (1) to obtain feedback on the dashboard layout, navigation and the data incorporated therein; (2) to obtain understanding of existing scholarly communication policies, attitudes, practices and motivational insights – how institutions, library and research staff, researchers, executives and administrators might use the data.


From the survey we obtained insights into researcher understanding of scholarly communication and publishing policies, options and practices at institutional levels. In the process, we became aware of the need for increased data literacy in relation to understanding the measures used to evaluate institutional research output used by global university rankings, and alternative methods.


COKI identifies a need for cultural change at individual researcher and institutional levels. To achieve institutional literacy we must support the growth of that literacy across relevant institutional stakeholders through accessible data and analysis.


Katie Wilson ORCID ID 0000-0001-8705-1027

Katie Wilson is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Culture and Technology, Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University with the Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative, where she is currently researching diversity,  inclusion, equity and open access. She has a research background in Indigenous education and has held positions in academic libraries.

The Australian BioCommons Community Engagement Strategy: Engaging Researchers at a National Scale to Understand Challenges and Deliver Solutions

Dr Tiff Nelson1,2,3, Dr Andrew Lonie1,4, Dr Johan Gustafsson1,4, Dr Jeff Christiansen1,3,5

1Australian BioCommons
Australia, 2Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia
3Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation, Brisbane, Australia
4University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
5University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia


The Australian BioCommons develops digital capacity, training and bioinformatics infrastructure to support Australia’s life scientists. So how can we identify the greatest needs of many thousands of geographically dispersed researchers, and also deliver useful infrastructure? Strong user engagement is paramount to understand community needs and direct the deployment and resourcing of appropriate infrastructure to ensure maximum impact.


We have developed a five step process of engagement that maximises community interaction, from initiation to deployment.


1/ Identify meaningful communities of manageable scope around focus areas with infrastructure challenges;

2/ Research the community topic area to understand broad needs and challenges to engage members;

3/ Communicate with the broad community, inclusive of everyone from any expertise level or any institution, to identify issues, roadblocks and solutions/suggestions through electronic surveys, shared discussion boards and virtual meetings;

4/ Document the challenges and, in discussion with infrastructure specialists, detail conceptual solutions with endorsement from a subset of practitioners from the community;

5/ Deploy and implement solutions with testing and feedback from the community.


Through this engagement process, the Australian BioCommons has identified and then coordinated work to deploy essential infrastructure that was previously lacking to support critical communities (e.g. those undertaking genome annotation).  Successful outcomes of deployment at this early stage are measured by positive responses from the community (e.g. turning up in large numbers, actively joining the discussion), and active use by early adopters.

The method is now being applied to engage a diverse range of communities.


Tiff completed a PhD in microbial ecology at the University of New South Wales in 2012. Her thesis on the gut microbiome of seals and subsequent experience in deciphering the ecology and biology of microbial organisms in diverse habitats to understand their impact on health and conservation got Tiff interested in the data analysis side of this work. She joined the Queensland Facility for Advanced Bioinformatics in early 2019 as Research Community Engagement for the Australian BioCommons. In this role, Tiff has been consulting with researchers to identify services and infrastructure the BioCommons could facilitate creating in the future.

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