Reflections on EOSC through
the mirror of ARDC
The Australian Research Data Commons
Image Ondrej Machart https://unsplash.com/photos/WEtXkeIlMoM
What is the ARDC?
A transformational initiative that
enables the Australian research
community and industry to access
nationally significant, leading edge
data intensive eInfrastructure,
platforms, skills and collections of
[It will become] a coherent
research environment to enable
researchers to find, access,
contribute to and effectively use
services to maximise research
quality and impact.
Who is the ARDC?
The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) is a company
limited by guarantee, that was formed on 30 May 2019.
Chose a membership based structure for the legal entity.
The ARDC brings together three legacy initiatives:
• Australian National Data Service (ANDS)
• National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (Nectar)
• Research Data Services (RDS)
The organisation is not the thing
“The ARDC is not the
Rosie Hicks, ARDC Chief Information Officer
So who is the sector?
Note that this is my interpretation of how stakeholders map together
ARDC as legal entity is new. It is
governed by a Board of Directors.
DDeRP was envisaged in the 2016
research infrastructure roadmap but
no formal governance was specified.
ARDC has “Coordination & coherence”
as capstone of its mission.
Will first need to promote shared
strategy and coordination amongst
DDeRP, then generate sector-wide
definition of the Commons.
Key differences in Australian context
• Smaller, though not geographically
• Directly funded organisations, not multiple projects
• NCRIS programme and research infrastructure roadmap
has strongly encouraged collaboration
• ARDC [the organisation] has distributed funding to sector.
Plan to become strategic partners, not funders in future.
Mandatory 1:1 co-investment.
• Unis & CSIRO play key role in operating infrastructure
So what can we learn from Australia?
Image Mads Schmidt Rasmussen https://unsplash.com/photos/PByvSytCs6Y
Challenge of remit without authority…
ARDC holds the overall remit for bringing the Commons into
existence but doesn’t have an official mandate to coordinate
DDeRP. Leads to lack of clarity as to who is responsible for what
and some competing services emerging.
EOSC EB/GB have remit to govern but ultimately have no say
over H2020 project remits. Danger that conflicting priorities and
viewpoints could undermine ability to coordinate Commons.
The Executive Board should consult with the major INFRAEOSC
projects (EOSCsecretariat, FAIRsFAIR, EOSC-Enhance etc) to
ensure commonality in vision, approach and timelines.
Need for stakeholder engagement
ARDC engagement strategy includes:
• Staff in each State as liaison points
• Summits to define priorities and work programme
• Ongoing consultation
The activities within EOSCsecretariat WP3 (Stakeholder
coordination) and WP7 (Stakeholder forum and events)
should liaise with EOSC Working Groups to ensure a fruitful
connection between the governance structure and all
Institutional & disciplinary commons
CSIRO Managed Data Ecosystem (MDE) is akin to a Commons
Agricultural Research Federation
AgReFed community defined minimum qualifying thresholds,
based on FAIR, for data to be accepted into the network.
Petascale Campus Initiative at Melbourne
• University wide initiative led by academics
• Employing ‘data stewards’ to work across discipline and
central services. Aim to ‘uplift’ skills by placing stewards in
• Staff have an ‘Academic Specialist’ grading. On academic
scale but without same pressure to publish. Key step
forward to supporting and recognising RDM career paths.
Lots can be learned from parallel initiatives in
universities, disciplines and bodies such as CSIRO.
Ensure broad stakeholder representation to learn
from all groups.
Difficult questions I was asked
Image Emily Morter https://unsplash.com/photos/8xAA0f9yQnE
Why should people get involved?
What are the benefits of EOSC for each group?
Why would they want to offer services or use EOSC
instead of what they do already?
Don’t assume that EOSC has an automatic audience. Ensure research
requirements are at the centre and that the services meet user needs. The
Executive Board should review the value propositions being developed by the
EOSCsecretariat project to engage each stakeholder group.
What do you do if someone pulls out?
What contingency plans are in place if a key service
provider or country withdraws?
Ensure Rules of Participation are sufficiently open so multiple options
are available and one service provider doesn’t have monopoly.
How will you achieve basic principles?
“Underlying infrastructure needs to be developed,
owned and operated publicly”
Case of Nectar research cloud
8 state-based computing
nodes funded to
develop Nectar Cloud.
Aim to leverage existing
Changes in governance and uni
leadership. eRSA closed.
Intersect became commercial.
Others nodes left network.
All insisted on own branded portals
and since hardware was increasingly
refreshed on University budgets,
90% now perceived as self-owned.
ARDC investing in a
Avoid falling into same
trap again. Now buying
access to compute and
storage not buying
compute and storage
Lessons from Nectar experience
Balancing sustainable investment
with community ownership and
governance are tough nuts to crack.
My take homes
Image Frame Harirak https://unsplash.com/photos/2oBDlim9r98
We can learn from other sectors
Disciplinary / institutional commons e.g. CSIRO & AgReFed, as
well as national or regional initiatives like ARDC
Elinor Ostrom’s principles for managing Commons
Defined Principles for how common resources –
forests, fisheries, oil fields and meadows – can be
managed successfully by the people who use them,
rather than by governments or private companies
Three under-represented groups
• International community
The EOSCsecretariat project should share concrete plans for stakeholder
engagement and dissemination with the Executive Board so it can ensure
balanced representation across EOSC communities and targeted events to
address under-represented groups such as researchers and institutions.
Let’s level the playing field!
Current EOSC Working