CeRDI defines eResearch as a set of activities that harness the power of advanced information and communication technologies (ICTs) for research.
Characterised by collaboration and facilitated by fast, high-capacity networks, the range of eResearch activities is diverse and multi-disciplinary. Key themes and drivers of eResearch include:
- data management and sharing;
- research collaboration;
- high performance computing; and
- customised discipline specific technologies to support research practices.
eResearch methodologies and capabilities have applications across all research disciplines. As an enabler of innovations and new discoveries, eResearch has the potential to boost research effectiveness through increased interaction between researchers, increased access to data and enhanced access to research outputs.
CeRDI’s specific expertise in eResearch is characterised by its innovations in knowledge management, spatial mapping, data interoperability and participatory geographic information systems. These have underpinned CeRDI’s growth since 2012. For example, for the Visualising Victoria’s Groundwater (VVG) project CeRDI developed spatial data infrastructure that federates groundwater data from disparate database sources into a single web portal.
CeRDI uniquely further defines eResearch as being comprised of three complementary directions:
- data discovery research;
- technological innovation research; and
- longitudinal impact research.
Data discovery research consists of two elements: the identification and analysis of research ready datasets (often historically hidden but once made accessible allow discipline-specific and cross-discipline research); and new discovery through crowd-sourcing and citizen science.
Technological innovation research at CeRDI includes the development of international open access standards, data interoperability methodologies and standards, data federation methodologies, three dimensional and four dimensional visualisation technologies, and digital tools to facilitate and support the development of crowd sourcing approaches and citizen science.
A key focus of the impact research is the measurement of shifts in knowledge, behaviour and attitudes within the practice context, due t the technological innovation, and how these shifts have enhanced practice outcomes through informed decision making.
The eResearch methodologies developed by CeRDI are being applied across areas including agriculture, climate adaption, emergency planning, health, heritage and culture, natural resource management and regional development.
CeRDI’s expertise in eResearch is coupled with a model of research that is characterised by the conceptualisation of discipline-specific investigations within the broader societal context – a dual function of all CeRDI research. The approach adopted by CeRDI researchers includes a social perspective to the impact of eResearch. This allows for insights relating to practice change, decision making, research potential and capacity building that have not previously been adopted consistently within the context of eResearch.
This approach places CeRDI in a unique position within the Australian eResearch environment.