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Spotlight on ... research software


While software is used extensively in research, it is also relatively invisible. Although in some cases research software actually is the research – for example, apps that result from research projects, or the software that underpins key research outputs such as visualisations, simulations or modelling of data – research software is still not recognised as a first class research output alongside journal papers and datasets. It is all but ignored in traditional reporting and measurements of research outputs, which makes it problematical for those wanting to demonstrate the impact of their work.

Despite its low profile, research software is a highly specialised output that greatly benefits our society, economy and natural environment. Yet the ecosystem that creates it is fragile – a lot of software is created on the fly, much is poorly documented, and it may rely on volunteers to maintain it after a research project ends.

Yet if researchers want to be able to test how researchers went from their data to a set of conclusions, the availability and viability of the relevant software becomes a live issue for research integrity.

The status of research software may get a boost from the ARDC's recently released draft agenda to recognise software as a first class research output. ARDC also believe it is important to view the people who develop and maintain it as critical enablers of research, who need defined career pathways. Read more.

What's New

Hot Topics

The Roadmap for Australian Infrastructure

Every five years, the Australian Government rethinks their strategic roadmap for research infrastructure. In the coming months, consultations and brainstorming sessions with researchers will help to create the 2021 Roadmap Exposure Draft. Feedback on the draft will be solicited through a submissions portal launched after the exposure draft is released. Follow the roadmap's progress here. You can also register there for updates.

Australian-Asian Research Collaborations in the Humanities

Australian-Asian Research Collaborations in the Humanities – Mapping the Present, Planning the Future is a first-ever mapping of humanities research engagement across Australia and the Asia region. The report highlights the potential for building shared fields of knowledge, strengthening regional networks, and enhancing Australia's reputation and influence in the region. Read the first volume of the report.

Australian Energy Transition Research Plan

ACOLA, the Australian Council of Learned Academies, has now released its first Australian Energy Transition Research Plan. The Plan states: "Australia's energy system is embarking on a transformation at a scale and rate that is unparalleled. Nations, leaders, industries and communities acknowledge the imperative to address global climate change through an 'energy transition'." The Research Plan identifies the urgent and strategic research priorities (and critical gaps) that require assessment for a successful Australian energy transition. These include energy system dynamics, social engagement dynamics and transition dynamics. Read more.

Bushfire Data Commons

Five research projects are collaborating to create a new Bushfire Data Commons as part of the ARDC's Bushfire Data Challenges program. Phase 1 will create the Bushfire Data Commons which can be used to model bushfire behaviour through nationally aggregated data and models on bushfire history and fuel. Phase 2 will address the impact of bushfires on physical and mental health and on the built and natural environment. Read more.

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