The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and partners have launched an ambitious 10-year strategy for transforming national social science research infrastructure.

Connected, Innovative and Responsive: Decadal Plan for Social Science Research Infrastructure 2024-33 sets out a compelling vision for a powerful framework of connected and integrated social science researchers across universities, government research and data agencies, and private and not-for-profit organisations. It includes three broad goals for the sector over the 10-year timeframe, with nine priority actions that will help achieve those goals, and five decision-making principles that it suggests should guide investments and priorities to ensure the biggest return for Australians on our research investment.

Speaking at the launch in Canberra, the Academy’s project lead Dr Isabel Ceron noted that the plan has been developed at the right time to take advantage of an enormous step change in the amount of social data that’s becoming available to researchers.

In a similar way large telescopes inaugurated a new era of discovery for astrophysics and space science, in the same way that peeking into our genes forever changed the way we understood life and its determinants, we are now starting to see masses of social, human data, pouring in from all corners of society.’

By building and connecting the infrastructure, protocols, governance and people support needed to make this data accessible, social science researchers will be able to gain a much more detailed and nuanced understanding of social systems, structures and trends and provide more valuable insights and advice to decision makers.

One of the central considerations of the plan is the need to facilitate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ leadership of and sovereignty over their own data, with priority actions focused on embedding principles of Indigenous Data Governance, Indigenous Data Sovereignty and Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property principles and processes into future research infrastructure.

Another key consideration is to encourage greater awareness and understanding of the value of investing in and utilising a cohesive and functional research infrastructure ecosystem across both the research and policy sectors. To this end, the launch event was followed by an implementation roundtable involving key stakeholders and funding agencies aimed at kick starting an implementation process for the decadal plan.

The Decadal Plan for Social Science Research Infrastructure 2024-33 is the result of a partnership between the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society, ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course, ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research and UQ Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR). It was developed over two years and in consultation with hundreds of social science researchers, technical experts and stakeholder organisations.

The plan can be found here, and interested readers are encouraged to sign up for more information on the implementation process.