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Research on target as Monash loads its e-research quiver

01 August, 2006

Researchers worldwide now have a faster and simpler way of accessing the vast repositories of data that underpin their studies, following a new federal government grant of $8.9 million to Monash University.

The funding will advance two Monash-led projects -- Australian Research Repositories Online to the World (ARROW) and Australian Research Enabling Environment (ARCHER) -- that will see researchers able to access multiple data sources and more effectively share research information before it is published, all through a single internet portal.

The Director of the Monash e-Research Centre, Professor Ah Chung Tsoi, said the funding -- $4.545 million for the ARCHER project and $4.355 million for ARROW -- would take the projects past proof-of-concept stage and allow the production of robust research tools that researchers could actually use.

The ARROW and ARCHER projects, which are harnessing the power of e-Research, could benefit studies in areas as diverse as airplane engine design and the impact of bushfires, he said.  

"If a social scientist is looking at the impact of bushfires on society and needs access to climate data, water data and human activity, currently he or she would need to access various databases located in different jurisdictions," Professor Tsoi said. "But with ARCHER, provided permission is given by the various jurisdictions, they could access all databases through the one portal."

ARROW, an initiative of Monash University Library, is a digital repository that enables learning institutions across the world to store, manage and promote access to research output in a range of digital content types such as articles, conference papers, theses and digital collections including audio and video media. Monash University has already launched its ARROW Repository and is now using it to collect evidence required for the Research Quality Framework, as well as other purposes.

Monash's partners in ARROW are the University of New South Wales, Swinburne University of Technology and the National Library of Australia.

ARCHER incorporates pre-publication data into the repository that would enable researchers to collaborate before the publication stage. Such pre-publication data sharing and collaboration is facilitated by a portal that allows it to be accessible anywhere in the world through the Internet.

ARCHER is expected to be available at the end of 2007 and can be used in any area of research including science, humanities and social science. Monash's partners in this project are James Cook University and the University of Queensland.

Today's funding announcement was made by Federal Education Minister Ms Julie Bishop. It was part of the $15 million Department of Education, Science and Training Systemic Infrastructure Initiative that aims to develop research information infrastructure for Australian researchers.

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