Humanities, arts & culture data

We need to inform and advance a national strategic blueprint for humanities, arts and culture research infrastructure – the platforms and investment needed to digitally preserve and share Australia’s vast social and cultural data enabling all Australians to easily access these resources for a wide range of social, cultural, economic, health, and environmental benefits.

In Australia and internationally, humanities, arts and culture (HAC) research and data curation, are at a pivotal juncture.

Digital and big data developments are transforming the possibilities for research into Australian society and culture, enabling unpreceded inquiry into our history and heritage, our place in the region, and the way we live now and into the future. Yet Australia’s unique social and cultural data and the source material required for research – such as artefacts, field notes, film, and oral recordings – are largely unconnected and locked away in individual projects, collections and institutions.

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 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap

In addressing this issue, the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training released the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap in 2017. It defines ‘research infrastructure’ as the nationally significant assets, facilities and services available to support leading-edge research and innovation that is accessible to public and private users across Australia, and around the world (p. 1). The Roadmap identified the need for national-scale infrastructure for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) research to drive transformations in the way researchers discover, access, curate and analyse social and cultural data.

Our Academy led work, in collaboration with the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) and galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) colleagues, to outline a framework for Platforms for HASS as part of the current National Research Infrastructure Roadmap and investment process.

In response to the 2018-19 Federal Budget, the the Academy welcomed the commitment to implementing the Research Infrastructure Investment Plan. In August 2019, the Academy welcomed the Department of Education’s decision to expedite funding for a major feasibility study into HASS research investment and infrastructure needs as part of the 2016 Research Infrastructure Roadmap.

Humanities, Arts & Culture Data Summit

In 2018, the Academy hosted the inaugural Humanities, Arts & Culture Data Summit in Canberra. For the first time in Australia, the summit bought together more than 100 delegates from universities, peak bodies, national cultural and collecting institutions, government departments, key projects and organisations, and National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) facilities to help frame a national HAC research infrastructure agenda.  See the Integrated Research Infrastructure for Humanities, Arts & Culture discussion paper that shaped proceedings.

The Academy’s second annual Humanities, Arts and Culture Data Summit and third international DARIAH Beyond Europe workshop was held 27-29 March 2019 in Canberra. An Australia-Europe knowledge exchange, convened by the Academy with the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) and the European Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities initiative (DARIAH), this event will explore new horizons for data-driven humanities and arts research, digital cultural collections and research infrastructure.

See our Past Special Events page for further details and select presentations.

Further information

Please contact our Director, Policy and Research Dr Kylie Brass for further information.