Big Data in Australian research: Issues, challenges and opportunities



This project will develop a national framework and strategy to enable Australian research to exploit opportunities and overcome challenges arising from the revolution in open and big data technologies, and from developments in data science and machine learning. By consulting broadly across disciplines and connecting with international big data initiatives, the project will identify common and discipline-specific practices, challenges and strategic developments, map existing data science capability and infrastructure within and across disciplines, identify opportunities for efficiencies, and assess technology, infrastructure, training and collaboration priorities for the future.


The project’s Expert Working Group is jointly led by Professor Michael Barber AO FAA FTSE and Associate Professor Jane Elith FAA, together with the Academy’s National Committee for Data in Science.

Events and timeline

The Expert Working Group is committed to taking a broadly consultative approach. We will engage with a broad cross-section of Australia’s research community, including those not commonly associated with data science, to develop the plan and to seek feedback and input. To do that, we will hold a number of targeted meetings, attend professional society functions and university-based open forums, and interview key decision makers.

The current process for plan development involves:

  • Initiation
  • Consultation paper development
  • Research sector consultation
  • Development of a draft paper
  • Finalisation
  • Publication, launch, and the beginning of implementation.

Consultations, and Ten Questions

**Please note, submissions for this project’s consultation are now closed.**

The report will be informed by the contributions of a broad range of stakeholders. The consultation process will include responses to key issues and targeted interviews.  Written submissions are also welcome.

The aim of the consultations is to hear stakeholders’ views, learn from their experiences, and draw out new thinking.

As part of our consultation process, we have developed a set of ‘Ten Questions’ upon which we would particularly like to hear your views. The questions can be found here.

We are not looking for detailed and necessarily authoritative responses but keen to get opinions.  Concrete examples are, of course, very welcome and indeed very desirable.

Importantly, we are interpreting the term ‘big data’ to include a diversity of data sources, not just those that are ‘big' in the conventional sense.


The Expert Working Group will seek input from the wider research community at various points throughout the process of plan development. This will involve both widespread community engagement activities as well as formal consultation once a draft plan is developed. Opportunities to be involved in these activities will be advised on this page, and via professional associations, newsletters, and the EMCR Forum.

If you have specific input or would like to engage with the committee please do not hesitate to get in touch via e-mail to or with Dr Jana Phan (Policy Analyst) at



This project is funded by the Australian Research Council under the 2017 Learned Academies Special Projects scheme.




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