Leonie Hellmers: eResearch practices, barriers and needs for support: Preliminary study findings from four NSW universities


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Authors

Lina Markauskaite (Faculty of Education & Social Work, University of Sydney), Leonie Hellmers (Intersect Australia Ltd), Mary Anne Kennan (Charles Sturt University), and Jim Richardson (University of Sydney ICT)

Abstract

This paper will present initial findings from a survey that investigates existing technology-enhanced research practices, researchers’ readiness to adopt eResearch, their needs and major barriers. The study was conducted as a part of a larger project which aims to establish researchers’ requirements for eResearch infrastructures and support, build researchers’ awareness about eResearch potential, and engage with them to co-develop eResearch services. The survey was conducted in May–June 2009 at four NSW universities: the Universities of Sydney, Newcastle, New England and New South Wales. It covered three main eResearch areas: a) data management, retention and sharing; b) technology enhanced research methods, tools and services; and c) research collaboration and dissemination.

The questions focused on four aspects: a) present practices and barriers for eResearch; b) attitudes to, and awareness about, eResearch; c) priorities and requirements for new infrastructures, services and support; and 4) researchers’ willingness to be involved in future elicitation of needs and specification of requirements. In total 658 academics, postgraduate research students and research support staff participated in the survey representing a broad range of disciplines, research practices and needs. Preliminary results indicate a gap between researchers’ positive dispositions, willingness and obvious need to adopt new technology-enhanced research practices and their limited awareness and utilisation of eResearch and eResearch bodies.

By offering some key preliminary findings in this presentation we have two aims: a) to shed some light into current researcher technology-enhanced practices, needs and constraints; and b) to open a discussion about the importance of taking these practices seriously when developing new research infrastructures and services. We argue that lack of awareness of researchers’ needs and limited engagement with researchers in co-development of infrastructures may not only disen¬franchise many researchers, but may also actively discourage short- and long-term uptake of eResearch technologies.

About the speaker

Leonie Hellmers provides communication support to Intersect. Most recently she was founding Project Director of the Dictionary of Australian Artists Online.

Leonie has worked in the digital humanities as a project director, developer and advocate for 15 years, variously for the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery of Australia, Fairfax, Brainwa@ve and for the University of NSW. She delivered communication solutions for the Australia Council, Australian Heritage Commission and the private sector, and worked extensively as a journalist and broadcaster. Leonie has a BA in Fine Arts, Literature and Politics from the University of Sydney.