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By  Adam Finch Ashleigh Carraro Nikki Galovic 3 April 2024 2 min read

Key points

  • CSIRO and CHORUS have developed a world-first method to automatically track how scientists use our national research facilities.
  • Current methods for measuring science impact miss valuable data on visiting researchers, but our solution ensures facilities get the credit they deserve.
  • After successful testing of the proposed solution, we expect the method will be available for research facilities worldwide.

Did you know our National Research Collections Australia house 15 million natural history specimens? Each year we loan more than 50,000 of these to visiting scientists tackling challenges like biosecurity and emerging diseases. 

Similarly, on any given day, astronomers around the world use our Australia Telescope National Facility to get a unique Southern Hemisphere perspective of our Universe.

Facilities such as the Australia Telescope Compact Array are among the world’s top radio telescopes in terms of research papers produced and citations.

We’re proud to host a range of specialist research facilities used by thousands of researchers annually. And while we know their immense value, measuring their true impact has traditionally posed a unique challenge.

As Australia’s national science agency, we have a unique remit to deliver applied research – that is, real solutions from excellent science and technology. We regularly assess the performance of our research activities and look for ways to improve.

Global challenge: capturing the impact of research facilities

Tracking the work produced by visiting scientists using our facilities can be difficult. So, acknowledgements of research facilities can often slip through the cracks.

When scientists use our facilities, their research gets published under their own institutions. Acknowledgements can get lost during paper publication, and manual tracking is inefficient and incomplete.

This challenge isn’t unique to us. No research facility globally has successfully developed a solution to accurately track their impact. But we’ve sought a transformative solution.

Partnering for change

Last year we partnered with CHORUS, a global open-access technology platform that measures research impact. Together we’re developing a universally applicable method for automatically tracking the use of our national facilities.

Collaborating with an impressive list of global publishers and metadata companies, we’ve designed a robust workflow that will capture a comprehensive picture of facility use. This workflow employs unique metadata identifiers and standards to automate the acknowledgment process, translating acknowledgments into automated reporting dashboards.

The collaborative effort means acknowledgements are captured at every stage of the research paper lifecycle. 

Dr Anusuya Willis and Dr Cintia Iha at the Australian National Algae Culture Collection. Image: Matt Marrison

Transforming research collaboration

This project isn't just about us  it's a potential game-changer for research-based organisations globally.

Research facilities are increasingly interconnected on a global scale. Having standardised identifiers and reporting workflows would revolutionise how facilities track and showcase their impact. The adoption of this solution would significantly contribute to the coordination of research efforts worldwide.

As we transition to the future of research labs, this project aims to not just streamline processes. It could transform how we understand, acknowledge, and propel the impact of scientific research worldwide.

Putting the solution to the test

Together with CHORUS we will be testing and validating the proposed workflow solution with our Australian National Telescope Facility and Marine National Facility over the next two years. After successful testing, the method is expected to be available for use by research facilities globally. With this solution, we're poised to transform how we understand the true impact of research facilities.

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