The current state and future potential of Australian research platforms
Kerry Levett1, Siobhann McCafferty1, Jonathan Smillie1
1Australian Research Data Commons, Australia
Research platforms, also called virtual research environments, science gateways, or virtual laboratories, are increasingly used as vehicles for collecting or generating data; processing, analysing, annotating and visualising these; then sharing the research outputs. Platforms are a broad category of digital research infrastructure that consist of online services, often with associated integration and/or orchestration functions, and connections to specific data, software, workflow, storage and compute resources.
One of the main drivers for creating platforms is to lower or remove barriers for researchers in accessing data and tools, performing complex analyses, and sharing workflows to encourage reproducibility. The ARDC is currently investing $25m in 26 transformative Platforms projects (https://ardc.edu.au/collaborations/strategic-activities/platforms), with an additional $36m in co-investment from project partners. These platforms will enable a step-change in the way research is conducted, and/or dramatically increase the speed at which it occurs.
With these projects well underway, we are now looking to the future and asking: “what will researchers’ needs be in 5-10 years time?”, and “how can we change research or enable new research directions to be undertaken?”
This BoF will showcase current projects via lightning presentations from several research platform developers, followed by deeper dives in breakout sessions. The goal is for the research and research infrastructure communities to share and understand the emerging needs of users and begin to collaboratively explore potential technical directions.
Kerry is a boundary spanner between the users and the builders of digital research infrastructure, with a research background across the environmental sciences, and over a decade’s experience in the research and higher education sectors.
Siobhann’s areas of expertise are in Persistent Identifiers, better plumbing for research (eResearch infrastructure), building strong communities of practice and promoting a culture of access and equality in the research sector.
Jon Smillie is a technical systems analyst, working across ARDC’s investments in Platforms and Data Assets. His technical background in eResearch spans more than 25 years, including development, analysis, systems administration and technical management.