Australia’s social science research infrastructure needs to be better integrated and interoperable in order to keep up with leading edge global research and research infrastructures currently operating in the USA and Europe. Much of the existing Australian infrastructure is underdeveloped, too small, has limited integration with other research infrastructure and is not well coordinated. Key existing social science data infrastructure have limited resources currently available to integrate or expand their significant existing data resources, and user base. A significant proportion of the available data also needs to be kept confidential and has serious privacy considerations. These constraints have led to a relatively fragmented infrastructure landscape for Australian empirical social science researchers.

The core elements of this integrated research infrastructure include:

  • a foundational infrastructure for the acquisition, storage, documentation and dissemination of social science data
  • extensible systems for the capture, documentation, preservation and analysis of data in near to real-time; and
  • effective management of metadata and
  • research environments for spatial and temporal data access, analysis and visualisation
  • Capabilities for data linkage and integration across different data providers, using multiple data sources

The IRISS project is intended to address this fragmentation, establishing a new foundation for integration of data, analysis and platforms for social science research in Australia. The starting point for this infrastructure is a core foundation of data – it’s acquisition, documentation, harmonisation and dissemination for re-use. ANU have for 40 years maintained critical data infrastructure, the Australian Data Archive, to meet the needs of social science research.

The squares shaded in pink in the figure below denote five IRISS work packages that are building blocks in establishing this foundational infrastructure for social science research.

IRISS Components