Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 June 2018
This chapter looks at two national approaches to research data infrastructure, responding to very different government and research sector environments: Australia and the USA.
Australia: a national research data service
The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) is working to enable the transformation of research data that are unmanaged, disconnected, invisible and single-use into structured collections that are managed, connected, findable and reusable. This will form a nationally significant resource so that Australian researchers can easily publish, discover, access and use Australian research data.
The beginnings of ANDS can be traced back to one of the most significant investments made by Australia in research infrastructure: the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). This was an A$542 million, seven year strategy originally spanning from 2004/05 to 2010/11 but with some investments extended to 2012/13 (the Australian financial year, referred to here, runs from 1 July to 30 June). NCRIS provides and supports major research infrastructure, allowing Australia to conduct world-class research. In November 2006, 12 priority areas (capabilities) were announced and projects have since been funded in each of these areas. NCRIS has adopted a strategic and collaborative approach to providing research infrastructure, which can be accessed by researchers across Australia. This type of collaboration is proving effective in delivering wider access to better infrastructure.
A key enabler of research collaboration is the high performance computing, data management and electronic communication tools provided by the new information and communication technologies (ICT). The Australian Government continues to support the deployment of these ICT tools so researchers can readily share access to research data and collaborate in analysing the data. The NCRIS investment in this area was collectively called Platforms for Collaboration (PfC) and the Australian National Data Service is one of its major components. Its current status can best be understood through its four sequential stages: establishment, initial funding, additional funding and time extension.
Establishment of ANDS
During the course of the PfC facilitation process, a number of workshops were held to determine the activities that might be included in the investment plan to assist research data management. Following the approval of the overall PfC investment plan by NCRIS, an implementation workshop with wide representation was held to confirm the proposal to establish an Australian National Data Service. This workshop took place on 29 May 2007.