Australian Academy of the Humanities Media Release

Academy welcomes government investment in humanities, arts and social sciences research infrastructure strategy

AAH News Media release, Policy & Research

The Australian Academy of the Humanities welcomes the federal Department of Education’s decision to expedite funding for a major feasibility study into investment and infrastructure needed to advance Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) research.

Commencing this year, the Department will lead a scoping study, part of the 2016 Research Infrastructure Roadmap, designed to develop a national ‘coordinated approach to infrastructure development to drive transformations in the way researchers discover, access, curate and analyse Australia’s social and cultural data’. The government originally signalled the scoping study would begin in 2020-21.

The Academy’s 8-Point Plan to Humanise the Future called on the government to bring forward the scoping work so as to strategically prioritise public investment to drive technological change in HASS research sector, which accounts for 41% of the research system in Australia.  Since the first national infrastructure roadmapping exercise in 2006, the Academy has been working closely with research organisations, universities and galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) colleagues to advance developments and secure a commitment from the Australian Government for investment into HASS research innovation and capability building initiatives. This work has included a number of consultations, papers and public engagement initiatives that brought together researchers, institutions, government and international agencies (see our website for further details). The Academy is delighted with the Department’s announcement.

The Academy’s President, Professor Joy Damousi FASSA FAHA, said:

“This is a strong signal by the government that they are committed to building Australia’s HASS research innovation and capability. Australia can lead the way in digitally preserving and openly sharing our vast social and cultural data. The government’s decision to expedite the scoping funding for HASS is catching up with both transformations at the coalface and institutional innovations. We expect the scoping strategy will yield very positive results for a sector that has traditionally been ‘outside the box’ of National Collaborative Research Infrastructure investment.”

The Academy also welcomes the announcement that the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) has been engaged to scope the development of a HASS research data commons (RDC) as a result of the Department’s consultation with the HASS sector. The project will investigate eResearch infrastructure and activities that could support improved discoverability, accessibility, and interoperability for HASS data and research based on the research data commons model. The Academy looks forward to contributing to the ARDC’s consultation process.

These developments follow the success of HASS in securing major public investment across a range of projects through the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Linkage, Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities scheme, including:

A time-layered cultural map of Australia—an online platform that will enable researchers to visualise hidden geographic and historical patterns and trends, and to build online resources which present to a wider public the rich layers of cultural data in Australian locations. Contributing to this project are Academy Fellows Professor Hugh Craig FAHA and Professor Lyndall Ryan AM FAHA.

Linked platforms for social and physical infrastructure and wellbeing to develop the next generation of decision-support tools (such as linked open data, knowledge graphs and collaboration) for interdisciplinary research on critical public policy issues. Academy Fellow Professor Julian Thomas FAHA is participating in this project.

Visualising venues in Australian live performance research that will construct a two- and three-dimensional visual interface and digital curatorial space, improving the existing AusStage open-access live performance database. Academy Fellow Professor Peta Tait FAHA is one of the investigators on this initiative.

The Networked Knowledge for Repatriation Communities project to create a digital facility that will gather, preserve and make accessible extensive records to support the repatriation of Indigenous human remains.

The Aboriginal History Archive that will create an online archive of records about Aboriginal self-determination, the land rights movement and Aboriginal community survival programmes.

Additionally, the ARC Linkage 2017-18 rounds awarded over $20 million to 50  HASS projects, the highest proportion allocated across all research funding proposals (including those from science, technology, engineering and medical sciences).

In order to make new discoveries that will transform our understanding of our cultures, identities, heritage and history, researchers require access to dispersed collections of qualitative and quantitative data and advanced tools to enable data-intensive research and analysis. The Academy looks forward to supporting the Department and the HASS research sector on the scoping work for Platforms for HASS.


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