The case for using citizen science in research design

Mr Peter Brenton1, Mr Kheeran Dharmawardena1

1Atlas of Living Australia, CSIRO, Canberra, Australia, 


As a way of “doing science”, citizen science has existed since well before science was first recognized as a discipline. The rise of professional science through the 19th and 20th centuries saw citizen science diminished to a pursuit for amateurs that was frequently discredited and prejudiced by professionals as producing unreliable and untrustworthy data and results.

The term “citizen science” is frequently misunderstood and misused, but in essence it refers to the participation in scientific endeavor by members of the public, specifically people who are not “qualified scientists”. Endeavor in this context refers to the pursuit of answers to questions using scientific methods and participation can be in any or all parts of the scientific process.

In the 21st century, citizen science is most frequently associated with crowd-sourced data collection in biodiversity and environmental projects, but it has also been successfully applied in any many other fields of research including social, cultural, economic, technological, medical, astronomical, and others. It has also been applied in different aspects of the scientific process, other than just data collection, such as data quality assurance (validation, verification, etc.), analysis and even publication.

Designing citizen science components into research projects can be rewarding for both researchers and citizen scientists. Reasons for doing so include:

  • Research can be costly, in particular when it involves extensive data gathering and processing. Incorporating public participation into some of the more time consuming and costly aspects of projects can significantly reduce overall costs;
  • Research teams can’t be everywhere all of the time, but involving the public in projects significantly increases the number of human sensors on the ground, thus providing much greater spatial and temporal coverage than would be possible using conventional research approaches;
  • Some data generation processes are computationally intensive and require human interpretation in ways that machine processing cannot currently perform. Breaking tasks down for crowd-sourced processing has proven very successful in these cases;
  • Involving the public in science projects increases social understanding and engagement, as well as ownership of issues. This is particularly important when changes to social paradigms and behaviours are required, such as in the debates around climate change, plastics in the environment, impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, etc.;
  • Involving the public in scientific processes makes the science real for people, allowing them to connect with projects and their outcomes more fully; and
  • In cases where social and/or political institutions fail to protect or deliberately undermine the interests of citizens, citizen science can produce sound data and analyses to counter vested interests working against truth or the public good. Citizen science–based activism has some well documented cases in the USA, such as The Public Lab [1] and the domestic water supply contamination saga in Flint Michigan [2]).

A cautionary note however, is that citizen scientists are not just free resources to be exploited for the benefit of projects. They should be treated respectfully as stakeholders and contributors who have an interest in what projects are aiming to achieve. Therefore projects incorporating aspects of citizen science should thoughtfully include science communications, science engagement and science literacy into the project design.


Data generated by citizen science projects is unfortunately often discounted by many professional scientists as biased, unreliable, untrustworthy, or of inconsistent quality. These views are also often held by many researchers about data from other researchers too, unless those suppliers are known and trusted as individuals. Are such criticisms valid or appropriate? Maybe, it depends on purpose for which the data was collected and the purpose for which it is being used. Before casting criticism at citizen science data simply because it is sourced through citizen science, it is important and appropriate to assess it on it’s merits, methods and fitness for the purpose for which it is to be used, just as one would for any dataset.

Older tools and field methods relied heavily on the skills and documentary discipline of individual data collectors/recorders to accurately and comprehensively document their observations. Tools such as GPS, mobile and field-based data collection systems incorporating configured database validation and quality assurance measures were not available then as they are now. Such technologies are now ubiquitous in platforms which are readily and freely available to citizen science practitioners, significantly reducing, and often eliminating many data quality related issues at the heart of most criticisms. Therefore many citizen science generated data are at least as good if not better quality than professionally generated data of the past and probably on-par with many of today’s professionally generated datasets.

Considerations around methodology in respect to fitness for use are therefore arguably more significant nowadays than data quality per-se and it is fair to say that currently many citizen science projects do not document methodology well, though this too is improving. In addition, the lack of a (or poorly) documented methodology should not necessarily discount a citizen science dataset from use, as often both quality and method can be readily determined by a superficial assessment of the data itself, eg. Collecting bias along access routes. Where collecting bias is an issue, even those data may still be usable after application of statistical methods to remove/minimize the bias.


The presentation will illustrate points raised above using examples from a selection of successful citizen science projects including: EchidnaCSI [3], Upper Murrumbidgee [4], DigiVol [5], Fold-it [6], EyeWire [7], and GalaxyZoo [8].


  1. The Public Lab,
  2. Stefaan Verhulst Citizen Science and the Flint Water Crisis, Posted on March 2, 2016, in GovLab Digest. Available from:, accessed 9th June 2018.
  3. EchidnaCSI,
  4. Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch,
  5. DigiVol,
  6. Fold-it,
  7. EyeWire,
  8. GalaxyZoo,


Mr. Kheeran Dharmawardena, MBA, BComp, is the Program manager at the Atlas of Living Australia. Kheeran has over 2 decades of experience in delivery of many ICT services within the higher education and research sector, including infrastructure delivery, service delivery, data management, IT & enterprise architecture and eResearch. He has a special interest in the socio-technical challenges involved in the delivery of effective services.

Embedding the Intersect training program at La Trobe University: Tackling the Issue of “No-Shows”

Ghulam Murtaza1, Emma Curtis-Bramwell2

1Intersect Autralia Ltd., Sydney, Australia,

2La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia,


Intersect Australia is a not-for-profit, member based organisation with 12 university members. It has a very strong focus on delivering training to researchers as part of its eResearch services. Since inception in 2008, Intersect Australia has delivered over 700 training courses to more than 7,000 researchers and graduate students. Our training is very highly rated, with 96% of attendees willing to recommend our courses.

Given that this service is funded through university membership, training does not cost anything to researchers directly. Even though the feedback suggests that researchers highly appreciate these training opportunities, no-cost also introduces the challenge that it sits low in the priority list of activities. As a result, La Trobe University (LTU) were seeing a large number of “No-Shows” in these training courses i.e., individuals who register for a course but do not attend or cancel their registration. The proportion of no-shows was around around 20% when training first commenced in at LTU in 2016, however by the end of 2016, this had increased to around 45% no-shows. This introduces huge logistical challenges around offering training in a sustainable manner.

After some investigation, it turned out that other training courses offered through the library and the Graduate Research School were also experiencing similar problems. The following three techniques were explored over the last 18 months, in partnership with the Graduate Research School’s Research Education and Development team, to find a solution.

  1. Calendar Invites; Entering the training sessions directly into the researcher’s calendar.
  2. Confirmation of Attendance Process; Asking researchers to confirm their attendance prior to the training.
  3. Expression of Interest; Asking researchers to apply for the training and make a case for themselves as to why they should be awarded a place in a particular training session

The Expression of Interest (EoI) based course offering was selected as the preferred approach at the start of 2018. The rationale behind this process is to ask researchers a couple of open-ended questions to make their case for a place in the training course. This results in an investment of time in order to secure a place. The results to date have been positive, with the percentage of no-shows reduced to around 12.4% for the 9 courses delivered at the time of writing in 2018.

In this presentation, we will go through the process of moving from an EventBrite system to an Expression of Interest system. We will discuss the stages undertaken and the impact of each of these stages. We will also go through the automations that have been performed to reduce the workload introduced by an EoI-based process. Finally, we will discuss the results and how this can be replicated by others.


Dr Ghulam Murtaza is currently Intersect Digital Research Analyst for La Trobe University. During his time at Intersect, Ghulam has worked with Australian Catholic University and La Trobe University where he has lead multiple eResearch initiatives including the efforts to imbed Intersect

services within local eResearch offerings. Ghulam is a published researcher and has previously held research and academic positions at many different reputable universities including UNSW, MAARCS institute of WSU, NEWT and Microsoft Research. Ghulam holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) and Masters of Science in Computer Science from LUMS, Pakistan. He further completed his PhD in Computer Science from University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Emma Curtis-Bramwell graduated from the University of Warwick with a BA (Hons) degree in Classics. Emma moved to Australia and worked in event management and executive recruitment in Sydney before relocating to Melbourne in 2005. She has worked in various roles at La Trobe University for the past 13 years whilst studying for a diploma in University administration. In her position as Project/Communications Officer, she helped establish the eResearch Office at Latrobe, which later became the Office of Research Infrastructure. In this role, she was responsible for budgets, project management, website content and supporting the development of a Digital Research training program at La Trobe. She also assisted with the establishment of Research Platforms, bringing together research capabilities, expertise and equipment. Since last year, Emmahas worked for the Graduate Research School as Research Education and Development Coordinator. She is responsible for promoting the training program, managing relationships with external consultants, managing the booking database, and reporting on attendance and evaluation following program delivery.

ecocloud: an ecosystem of data, tools and people working towards confidently predicting future environmental outcomes

Sarah Richmond1, Kheeran Dharmawardena2, Jonathan Yu3

1Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia,

2Atlas of Living Australia, Melbourne, Australia,

3CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia,


Access to good quality ecological and biodiversity data alongside analysis tools is critical to synthesising our understanding of the natural world and making forward projections into novel conditions. Recent technologies have enabled consistent and continuous collection of ecological data at high resolutions across large spatial scales, and there are a number of initiatives and institutions collecting this data. The challenge remains, however, to bring these data together and expose them to methods and tools to analyse the interaction between biodiversity and the environment. These challenges are mostly associated with the accessibility, visibility and interoperability of data hosted in disparate places, and the technical capacity, computation and analysis needs of those interpreting the data. This is where ecocloud comes in.

ecocloud is an online environment that works the way ecologists do. That is, it provides unprecedented access to datasets from hundreds of publishers across Australia in a single interface, and it connects this data with common analysis tools like RStudio & Jupyter Notebooks using Australia’s national cloud computing infrastructure. It also includes an innovative training and skills development program to help drive a skilled workforce of students, researchers, government practitioners and industry professionals working across the domain.

In line with the vision of the Science Clouds initiative[1] that established the ecocloud, it is emerging as more than another digital platform. ecocloud is beginning to provide an important collaboration vehicle across key partners within the ecosciences domain, and also across other domains such as biosciences, humanities and social sciences, and marine sciences. By leveraging the expertise of each project partner we’ve been better able to strategically align with national research priorities and a collective long-term vision of creating an ecosystem of infrastructure that provides capability to enable reliable prediction of future environmental outcomes.

In this presentation, we will showcase the ecocloud platform and the outcomes from the Ecoscience DEVL/RDC project as supported by the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC). We will also touch on our strategic vision, how we’re planning for a sustainable future for the platform and what success looks like to us. We expect this talk will be of interest not only to people working in the Ecoscience domain, but to anyone aspiring to build and maintain digital solutions for research and decision making in the long-term.

[1] The Australian Science Clouds Project. Available from, accessed 21 June 2018.


Sarah Richmond, BSc(Hons I), is a Project Manager in eResearch Services at Griffith University. Sarah currently coordinates the development and delivery of the Ecoscience DEVL/RDC Project (ecocloud), as well as the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory (BCCVL). With a research background in ecology, she has a special interest in enhancing environmental research through digital solutions by building integrated, user-friendly and supported cloud platforms for accessing data and analysis workflows. Sarah has both a professional and personal passion for tackling complex technical challenges to better allow researchers and decision-makers to efficiently discover and guide practical solutions to significant environmental problems.

Reflecting on NeSI’s Training Efforts: Past and Future

Fabiana Kubke1, Georgina Rae2, Nick Jones3

1University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand,

2New Zealand eScience Infrastructure, Auckland, New Zealand,

3New Zealand eScience Infrastructure, Auckland, New Zealand,


Training is integral to how NeSI supports New Zealand researchers with the work being driven by a clearly defined Training Strategy.

In late 2017, NeSI worked with Fabiana Kubke to review our achievements in training with a view to developing our future training strategy.

Our approach has been to quantify the outputs and estimate the impact of NeSI’s training activities in proportion to overall sector capacity, and to make some inferences on the possible extent of need. We have done this through the following steps:

  • Estimate workforce capacity for Higher Education Institutes and Crown Research Institutes
  1. Map the use of NeSI infrastructure against these workforce estimates
  2. Identify the reach and gaps in the current NeSI training initiatives

Having reviewed our efforts so far, we are now scoping the training that will be required to truly make a difference to the levels of digital literacy in New Zealand.

This talk will present our findings from these pieces of work.


Georgina works as Engagement Manager at the New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI) looking after NeSI’s various stakeholders through outreach, training and relationship management. She has a background in molecular biology and intellectual property.

How #ResBaz provides cost-effective digital literacy PhD training for communities

Dr Chris Tuke Flanders1, Dr Tyne Daile Sumner1

1University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia


The Research Bazaar (est at UniMelb) is now in its 5th year as a global community with over 17 participating Universities worldwide.  #ResBaz is a grassroots effort to improve how PhDs, postgrads and postdocs can keep up to speed with the ever changing digital tools+data ecosystem.  The community continues to grow founded by its pedagogical principles of: (i) for research by researchers, (ii) blended community learning (face-to-face and digital communities), and (iii) helping you -the researcher- work smarter, not harder.  Come learn: (a) how UniMelb has made an IT department one of the most sociable learning places on campus, and (b) how you can establish #ResBaz on your campus (and get the funding support from your Uni to do so).  Free (Open Access) digital copies of the ‘Research Bazaar Cookbook’ will be given away to participants.


Christina is the Training and Development Manager for Research Platforms at the University of Melbourne. Christina edited the textbook The Digital Research Skills Cookbook.

Dr Tyne Sumner is the Senior Research Community Coordinator for Omeka and runs events and training in digital curation, data management, and archiving. She has published articles on the Cold War, confessional poetry, and the relationship between astronomy and typography in the poetry of e.e.cummings. She also has a forthcoming book chapter entitled “Omeka: Make Your Own Museum” out with Indiana University Press in 2018. Tyne is passionate about Digital Humanities and telling stories with data.

Patterns in Information Infrastructure

Paul Box1, Kheeran Dharmawardena2

1CSIRO, Black Mountain, Australia,

2Atlas of Living Australia, Melbourne, Australia,


Information infrastructure used by research comprising systems, data, processes and people providing this infrastructure (provider community) has evolved to underpin specific communities (user communities) with specialised software and hardware requirements. Underpinning research user communities is challenging: software and data in cutting edge areas advances quickly meaning that software infrastructure can fast become irrelevant; research is naturally competitive, which makes collaboration a finely tuned balance; and building models for sustainability is challenging.

A pattern language is a method of describing good design practices or patterns of useful organization and through a set of interconnected patterns, attempt to express a deeper understanding of the relationship between different patterns.

A number of patterns (i.e. the things that we believe hold true across different contexts) that impact achievement of collective goals in information infrastructure have been observed. For example,

  • Connecting rowing and steering – governance is the decision making process that sets the ‘rules of the game’ to ‘steer’ collective activity’. Individual orgs and people do the heavy lifting ‘rowing’ to achieve agreed outcomes. If there is a real or perceived inability to influence decision outcome in governance mechanisms there is likely to be a disincentive to taking action to achieve the outcomes particularly where collaborative efforts are in-kind volunteered effort, rather than being centrally funded.
  • Pigs and chicken – decision rights should be allocated in ways that are appropriate to the needs of the community and the respective roles of individual actors. Assigning decision authority – decider (as opposed to decision input roles) can be used to give more voice in collective decision making to those who will have more skin in the implementation game i.e. the ‘pigs’
  • Understanding and leveraging Coalitions of the Willing (COWs) – What incentivizes the folks who drive and contribute to initiatives? How can this be replicated and scaled up?
  • Working with frenemies – Difficult to navigate the various individual and organisational (dis)incentives for collaboration within a competitive environment that hamper eResearch adoption and growth

There are sure to be many more patterns.

This oral presentation will look at some of these patterns and the work that is being done towards developing an information infrastructure pattern library.


Paul Box leads a CSIRO research team developing interoperable systems of systems or ‘Information Infrastructure’. Paul has worked for more than 25 years in geospatial information technology field.

More recently, Paul has focused attention on addressing the social rather than technical challenges of building Information Infrastructure. Coherent integrated approaches to addressing the social, institutional and economic challenges of infrastructure development are being elaborated through ‘social architecture’.

Mr. Kheeran Dharmawardena, MBA, BComp, is the Program manager at the Atlas of Living Australia.  Kheeran has over 2 decades of experience in delivery of many ICT services within the higher education and research sector, including infrastructure delivery, service delivery, data management, IT & enterprise architecture and eResearch.  He has a special interest in the socio-technical challenges involved in the delivery of effective services.


Visualising Researcher Collaboration and Linkage using ORCID Data and Research Graph

Mr Melroy Almeida1,Dr Amir Aryani2

1Australian Access Federation, Brisbane, Australia,

2Research Graph, Melbourne, Australia


eResearch Infrastructure comprising of systems, data, instruments and people supporting the infrastructure continues to evolve providing higher education institutions and research organisations with specialised research requirements. Australia is entering a period where significant distributed computing and data resources are being made available to researchers and higher education staff [1]. Persistent identifier infrastructure comprising of ORCID iDs (Open Researcher Contributor Identifier), DoI’s (Data object Identifier), RAiD’s (Research Activity Identifier) etc are essential tools for resource and research management but also benefit society by enabling global, interlinked Open Science and ensuring that benefits of research can be distributed and harvested over the long term [2].

As universities and research organisations start evolving into hotbeds for entrepreneurship and discovery [3, p. 2], eResearch is looked to as a vehicle that drives innovation. With today’s global environment where everything is connected, researchers from different institutions often collaborate to work towards common goals concerning technology, research or shared values. Do institutions sharing same socio-political environment have stronger linkages between their staff or will the underlying data paint a different picture?

In this presentation, the Australian Access Federation along with Research Graph, use exploratory data analysis on information obtained from aggregated ORCID records of Australian researchers to visualise collaborations and identify meaningful relationships and linkages between the institutions they work with.

ORCID – Connecting Researchers and Research Outputs

The Australian Access Federation (AAF) operates the Australian ORCID Consortium and collects statistics regarding ORCID integrations done by consortium members as well as the types of integrations.

Out of 40 consortium members, 29 have done different types of integration including custom integrations and integrations with vendor Research Information Management Systems (RIMS) like Symplectic Elements, PURE, ViVO, IRMA, Converis and Scholar One. With over 72% of consortium members with an ORCID integration, it would be interesting to see if any meaningful relationships and linkages can be gained.

Figure 2: ORCID best practices on Integration Implementation pathway

The presentation will look at insights derived from researchers aggregated ORCID data and determine if the strength of the linkages between institutions both domestic and international, are based on geographical or socio-political or common area of research expertise. A prototype is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Prototype for visualisation of collaborations between Australian ORCID Consortium Integration Statistics

Connecting Australian ORCID PROFILES using Research Graph Technology

In a recent article in Nature Scientific Data [4], Research Graph team has published an open-access graph that captured the connections between Australian research datasets, publications and grants linked using Research Data Switchboard. In this work, we use this graph (Figure 3) and other datasets provided by Research Graph partners to map the collaboration between Australian ORCID Consortium members. In addition, Research Graph team has added the integration with Organisation Nodes such as GRID, Ringgold ID and Funders data to enable modelling the links between data and publications to research institutions.

The result of this work is newly established links that demonstrate the following connections

  • publication → researcher (ORCID) → affiliation → university
  • publication → grant → researcher (ORCID) → affiliation → university
  • dataset → researcher (ORCID) → affiliation → university
  • dataset → publication → researcher (ORCID) → university

We have used these connections to build our collaboration network for Australian ORCID Consortium members. In addition to the national level connections, this graph shows strong collaborations with international research institutions such as Cambridge (UK), CERN (Switzerland) and Cornell University (US).

In this talk, we will present the visualisation of this network, and discuss how researchers, research administrators, policymakers, and data managers can access this open graph.


[1]  Department of Education and A. G. Training, “Government response to 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap | Department of Education and Training.” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23-May-2018].

[2]  A. Dappert, A. Farquhar, R. Kotarski, and K. Hewlett, “Connecting the Persistent Identifier Ecosystem: Building the Technical and Human Infrastructure for Open Research,” Data Science Journal, vol. 16, no. 0, p. 28, Jun. 2017.

[3]  “NMC Horizon Report Preview 2018.” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23-May-2018].

[4]  A. Aryani, M. Poblet, K. Unsworth, J. Wang, B. Evans, A. Devaraju, B. Hausstein, P. Klas, B.Zapilko, S. Kaplun, “A Research Graph dataset for connecting research data repositories using RD-Switchboard”, Nature Scientific Data, Volume 5, Pages 180099, 2018,


Melroy Almeida currently works at the Australian Access Federation (AAF) as their ORCID Technical Support Analyst. AAF is the consortium lead for the Australian ORCID Consortium and Melroy works with the Australian ORCID Consortium members on their ORCID implementations as well as assists them in planning their communication and engagement strategy.  Melroy has formal qualifications in information technology (M.InfoTech) and engineering (B.Tech) and over 10 years’ experience delivering information technology solutions within the higher education sector.

ILIFU RDM Research: Developing the workforce of a national data node

Dr Dale Peters1, Dr Elisha Chiware2

1UCT, Cape Town, South Africa,

2CPUT, Cape Town, South Africa,


ILIFU is the isiXhosa word for Cloud, an apt representation of the first node in the data infrastructure funded by the Department of Science and Technology to support the National Integrated Cyberinfrastructure System of South Africa.  This presentation will provide an overview of the ILIFU model of shared infrastructure as a data-intensive research facility for big data management, storage and analysis. It will focus primarily on the research data management (RDM) research component of the project from conception to current operationalisation.

Preliminary findings will be shared with the community to raise awareness of the project, its methodology and its structure, designed to facilitate cross-institutional collaboration.  The overall project has a strong emphasis on human capital development, to develop the workforce required to operate the regional data node. Engagement with researchers in designated domains of astronomy and bioinformatics enable the collaborative development of policies and guidelines to support users of the infrastructure.  Significantly, the RDM research project fulfils an important function in support of institutional capacity building across participating institutions, where project findings will serve to promote institutional policy implementation and service development.

The presentation will offer insights into issues of data management, data governance, and the interaction between scientists and information professionals in building an African data infrastructure.

Keywords: Research data management; Policies; Guidelines; Collaboration; Shared infrastructure.

  1. Outline
  • ILIFU project overview

Cloud Infrastructure

Science – Astronomy and Bioinformatics

RDM research project

  • Objectives of RDM project Software platform

RDM services

  • RDM Project methodology

Structure –  PM team, Work groups – 0,2 FTE, cross pollination

Implementation plan – currently in execution, deliverables

Communication plan – between work groups and external awareness raising

Researcher engagement

  • Preliminary findings: Opportunities

Figshare –  SAAS license model

New multi-institutional collaboration

Community engagement – conferences, events, NeDICC presentations

Capacity Building

  • Preliminary findings: Challenges

RDM learning curve

Time pressure of project work

Remote collaboration –technical challenges with Skype, Slack

Institutional participation- varied qualifications, management of 0,2 FTE

  • Discussion

Limited proposal planning period – application of initial capabilities survey

Team selection and specialisation needed more attention

Work in progress – assigning responsibilities, enabling growing areas of specialisation

National benefits – figshare brokering service model, data management guidelines for relevant domains

  1. References



Dr Dale Peters is Director of eResearch at the University of Cape Town, provisioning networked infrastructure tools and services to support innovative research practice in data-intensive science. She convened the Work Group for the Data Intensive Research Initiatives of South Africa (DIRISA), established in the National Integrated Cyber-Infrastructure System (NICIS) in 2013. She has served on international expert groups to identify principles and potential policy actions to promote open and sustainable international data networks.

Elisha R. T. Chiware is the Director of CPUT Libraries at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. He has worked on the development of a national statistics database for academic libraries in South Africa and he is currently involved in DIRISA as the Chair of the Research Data Management and Open Science Research Group. He has worked in academic libraries in Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Using Pathways Forums to inform future initiatives for your research field

Mrs Lauren Attana1

1eRSA, Thebarton, Australia


The Pathways series was initially developed by eRSA in 2016 with the goal to connect both academics and industry professionals to the latest, innovative, eResearch tools and services around the nation. The aim of these forums was to encourage the community to come together and discuss a range of subjects including training, expert support mechanisms, technology platforms, data or infrastructure. Since its commencement, eRSA has executed this concept into multiple research disciplines, including the Genomics, Humanites and EcoSciences space, with each series of events being continually refined.

With advocacy and community engagement activities being integral to the concept, the community gathered at these events are able to articulate ideas for further research support without being restrictive and essentially informing on future initiatives.

This seminar will walk through:

  • The origin of the Pathways concept and how they evolved to become a part of nationally recognised initiatives
  • The ‘recipe’ for organising a Pathways event
  • How its success to date has benefited multiple research communities

I will also delve into ‘What’s next for the Pathways Forums’ and how you can leverage this concept for your own field of research.

This session is ideal anyone who is interested in leveraging engagement of those in their research field and use it to improve best practice and inform on future thinking.


Lauren Attana is the Marketing Team Leader at eRSA. She regularly works with researchers and commercial users as well as with a national network of cross functional institutions, departments and organisations.

Lauren has a Bachelor of Public Relations from the University of South Australia where she majored in Marketing. Previously from a financial planning background, she has extensive experience in implementing and overseeing internal and external marketing and communications programs.

At eRSA, she is heavily involved in projects relating to digital marketing, social media and internal communications.

Working within the Marketing team, she regularly assists with the delivery of creative and innovative marketing and communication solutions for local and national projects for eRSA, Nectar and various other institutions.

Upskilling library staff: from zero to heroes

Steven Chang1, Rachel Salby2, Janice Chan3, Julie Toohey4, Susannah Bacon5

1La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia,

2La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia,

3Curtin University, Perth, Australia,

4Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia,

5Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC), Canberra, Australia



Information professionals and library staff are taking on an increasingly central role in developing research data management services. This trend means institutions have an imperative to upskill staff and empower them to cultivate expertise in this area. The wider library and research data community have emphasized the need for librarians to develop solid research data management skills, as seen in the 2016 Ithaka S+R Library Survey 2016 [1], European Union’s RECODE: Open Access to Research Data [2], initiatives such as the ALIA Research Data specialization, and other literature.

Key skillsets include supporting researchers and institutions with data discovery, data citation, data storage, data formats, collaboration, research data management plans, DOIs, FAIR principles, copyright and intellectual property, sensitive data,  metadata management, data retention, open access, publishing and sharing data. It is vital that library staff with no prior research data management or research background can gain the knowledge to feel confident supporting and advising researchers on best practice.

A common challenge in upskilling staff comes from overcoming staff resistance and fear of new technology, according to the literature [3, 4, 5]. The experience from University of California, Berkeley, illustrated that, while many libraries have made concerted efforts to train staff in research data management, the success of these programs depends on how closely aligned staff feel with the training [6]. It is therefore important that training programs allow staff to feel comfortable with this new domain of skills and engage staff with hands-on experience that they can relate to their work.

In Australia, a variety of programs have been used, including the 23 Research Data Things developed by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS, now known as Australian Research Data Commons), Library Carpentry workshops, using a variety of mediums including online modules, face-to-face classes, and blended learning. La Trobe University has developed an extensive evidence-based upskilling model that goes beyond single training sessions and incorporates a series of hands-on training, living documentation, encouraging ambassadors and champions, and developing a participatory community of practice. These initiatives have encouraged librarians to become ambassadors, create communities of practice, and involve library voices in events such as ANDS webinars, Research Bazaar (ResBaz) events, and Research Support Community Days. We will discuss the outcomes of these programs for staff knowledge and confidence at this session.


1 hour ‘Birds of a Feather’ session focusing on informal discussion and reflection. The conveners will chair the session, which will also include four brief lightning talks.

Each lightning talk will provide an overview of the ways each institution has trained library staff in research data management and overcome barriers that prevent staff from embracing these new roles. Attendees are encouraged to informally share their own experiences and reflections. The focus will be on collectively sharing reflections on best practice. We also want to hear about a range of outcomes, including poor take-up of programs and key challenges faced. An assigned facilitator will take notes reviewing the main discussion points, and collate these to circulate after the conference is over.

This session is targeted at both library leadership and managers, as well as newcomers to data librarianship, plus any others who are interested in identifying the best approaches to learning and teaching research data management for support personnel.



  1. Wolff-Eisenberg, C. (2017). US Library Survey 2016. New York : Ithaka.
  1. RECODE Project Consortium. (2014).  RECODE: Policy Recommendations for Open Access to Research Data.Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. DOI: 5281/zenodo.50863
  1. Blessinger, K. & Hrycaj, P. (2013). Workplace Culture in Academic Libraries: The Early 21st Century.  Boston: Emerald Publishing.
  1. Matteson, M. & Hines, S. (2017). Emotion in the Library Workplace. Boston: Emerald Publishing.
  1. Edwards, McClean, & Cleave (2016, February 10th), “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” Exploring a state-wide ICT skills training project for Victorian public library staff, VALA2016, Melbourne. Melbourne: VALA.
  1. Wittenberg, J., Sackmann, A. & Jaffe, R. (2018). Situating Expertise in Practice: Domain-Based Data Management Training for Liaison Librarians. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 44(3), 323-329.



Rachel Salby is Acting Senior Coordinator, Research Data at La Trobe University Library. She has particular expertise in research data management, project management, and library systems. She is a passionate advocate for improving researcher access to data and information.

Steven Chang is Research Data Outreach Officer at La Trobe University Library. He is interested in open scholarship, systematic review methodology, research data management, and health librarianship. Steven comes from a medical librarian background, and is the former editor of the publication Health Inform.

Janice Chan is Coordinator, Research Services at Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia. Janice’s experience is in repository management and scholarly communications. She is interested in open research, metrics and impact assessment, research data management, library-led publishing, data analysis and visualisation, and innovative practice in library service delivery.

Julie has worked in academic libraries for 23 years and is currently the Health Discipline Librarian at Griffith University, Gold Coast campus.  Julie is passionate about research data management practices and is in the process of publishing her first co-authored journal article. Throughout 2016, Julie co-facilitated the Australian National Data Services 23 Things (research data) Health and Medical Data Community Group webinar series and is a member of the Queensland University Libraries Office of Cooperation (QULOC) Research Support Working Party.

Susannah has worked for ANDS (now ARDC) since 2010 where she has been involved in community building, outreach and training, website content delivery, webinars and all aspects of communications. She was a key person in the delivery of the internationally renowned 23 (research data) Things program that was directed specifically at the librarians community, and is constantly ensuring that it remains relevant and up to date. She holds a Bachelors of Agricultural Science, a Grad Dip in land rehabilitation and a Masters in Social Research.

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    About the conference

    eResearch Australasia provides opportunities for delegates to engage, connect, and share their ideas and exemplars concerning new information centric research capabilities, and how information and communication technologies help researchers to collaborate, collect, manage, share, process, analyse, store, find, understand and re-use information.

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