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Ron Sandland, ANDS’ Steering Committee Chair

Ron SandlandThe recent national research infrastructure capability issues paper, prepared as part of the ongoing roadmapping process, places research data in a pivotal role, whether in the capability focus areas or in the capabilities that deal directly with the management, analysis and interpretation of data.

The Government’s commitment to long-term investment in NCRIS carries with it an implicit assumption that a significant investment in research data needs to be made to position Australia’s research communities in the forefront of global and national research challenges. A corollary of this is that the best investment in Australia’s research infrastructure must maximise the value of the research data captured, managed and interpreted within this visionary program.

One of the most important ways in which the value of research data can be maximised is to ensure that it is managed in such a way as to facilitate its collection in discoverable, interoperable and shareable ways. This transcends standard data storage paradigms. Such an approach facilitates the formation of research data communities in which data are readily found and shared, and fosters national and international research collaboration.

These communities enable research to be accelerated and enhance the solution of difficult research problems, whether in the deep science needed to facilitate medical breakthroughs, or in bringing together the multiple sources of data that will enable us to better understand how urban environments can be planned for more sustainable futures.

For individual researchers, membership of these communities provides an extension and facilitation of their ability to collaborate and do better science. When I needed some data I wrote to potential collaborators around the world, and occasionally this elicited a rich source of data. I’m sure for young researchers now this brave new world is quite thrilling.

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