In 2021, the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) partnered with the five Australian learned academies and the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) to explore data infrastructure needs to facilitate excellent data-enabled research across science, health and medical sciences, humanities, social sciences and engineering and technology.
This report presents data-related needs for science research captured by the Australian Academy of Science through consultations with researchers and other experts across a range of science disciplines.
The strategic research data needs and challenges identified in this report include:
- Driving greater national coordination and integration across Australia’s research data infrastructure to improve data access and interoperability between research disciplines, government and industry. This requires careful consideration of existing architecture and repositories, and streamlined access to government data for research in minimally processed, non-proprietary and machine-readable formats. A review and reframe of national research data policy and development of clear, strategic national research data priorities is needed to drive coordination and development of national data infrastructure.
- Developing consistent and enforceable data policies and standards to facilitate access, interoperability, responsible use, reuse and sharing of data between research, government and industry.
- Promoting data sharing by recognising data and software sharing in academic success metrics and investing in the people and infrastructure to manage data and make data FAIR. Data, code and software sharing enables collaboration and supports research integrity, but requires time and expertise to curate data, provide quality metadata and make them interoperable.
- Addressing challenges presented by expanding volumes of data and data-intensive research activities, such as moving, manipulating and analysing large amounts of data, data storage and retention. Data infrastructure development will need to consider these issues to serve the future needs of research.
- Developing a digitally skilled research workforce as an urgent priority to underpin effective data infrastructure and data-intensive research. Building this capability will require both investment in data experts and raising the data skills of researchers. Appropriate funding, attractive employment and recognition for data science expertise are needed to attract and retain data experts in the research sector.