A couple of weeks ago, I attended Research Bazaar (ResBaz) Sydney 2018 as an instructor. This is a wrap-up report on this successful and enjoyable event.
Research Bazaar was initiated in Melbourne, and now it is a worldwide festival promoting the digital literacy emerging at the centre of modern research, where researchers can learn from training courses, share knowledge and skills, network with peer researchers and have fun. In Australia, ResBaz has been held in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Hobart. Sydney’s first ResBaz was held at the University of Sydney in February 2016, which was aimed mainly at researchers from the University of Sydney. Luckily, at that time I was invited to be one of the trainers, which allows me to be a witness of the growth of this event in Sydney. Last year, with the support of our UTS eResearch team and the UTS library, ResBaz was held at UTS in July 2017. This was essentially the first “ResBaz” ResBaz with the involvement of multiple institutions: University of Technology Sydney, University of New South Wales, University of Sydney, Macquarie University, and Intersect. With 300+ registrations and 13 workshops delivered, the event was quite a success. I acted as an instructor again.
Earlier this year, five Intersect colleagues, and myself became Software Carpentry instructors. Now Intersect has eight Software Carpentry accredited trainers, plus some experienced eResearch analysts and trainers to support ResBaz moving forward. ResBaz Sydney 2018 was held at Macquarie University on 3-5 July 2018. This community-building event keeps growing over time - over 600 researchers and research technologists from 9 universities (Macquarie University, University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, University of Technology Sydney, Western Sydney University, Australian Catholic University, University of New England, University of Newcastle, University of Wollongong) registered for this year’s sessions (compared with 300 registrations from 4 universities last year), including 78 registered researchers from UTS.
Training & Talks
Training was the key part of ResBaz that attendees enjoyed so much. Together with Aidan Wilson (Intersect) and Robert Woodward (Macquarie University), I co-instructed in one of the two Python streams over two days that covered Unix, Python and Git. There were other sessions including Beginner R Programming, Advanced R and Python Programming, Humanities and Social Sciences, SQL & Data Manipulation (including web scraping). The “themed” lightning talks included the Humanities and Technology Camp Unconference, Machine Learning, Lean Innovation for Researchers, etc., and there were sponsor talks on the third day.
As a witness and instructor in all the 3 ResBaz Sydney events in history, I found the following highlights of this year’s training:
- Macquarie University used an “overbooking” strategy for all training streams. It worked quite well to get a better turnout. In our Python stream, 33 researchers turned out, which was better than last year.
- More experienced instructors and helpers than last year shared the teaching load in each session. There were three Software Carpentry accredited instructors and three helpers in our Python session with 33 attendees, so the trainer-trainee ratio was quite high.
- We’ve achieved absolutely positive feedback. The only “negative” feedback was that the researchers wanted to have shorter breaks and more time for learning!
- Some lightning talks were quite inspiring and were well-received.
The grand hall was used for networking, session break catering, posters and sponsor booths. Although catering was not stellar, we all had a great time talking with researchers about their research and posters, where and how they can get support, and reunited with old friends and colleagues.
One highlight was that Intersect provided popcorns and Intersect@10 anniversary cupcakes! They were so popular and attendees loved them.
Reunion - Sharyn (UTS), Piy (Usyd) and Carmi (CSIRO)
Reunion - the Intersect Team
One thing that could be improved in the future is that the main hall was not close to one of the two training buildings. It was a bit hard for attendees to move back and forth to the catering/booth area - this could be one of the reasons why they didn’t like the session breaks. Best to have all training rooms in the same building, so participants can get out of the rooms during breaks and grab a coffee and muffin, and get back to rooms easily whenever they want.
ResBaz is about eResearch, research community building, and research technology support. This year, the participation of regional universities have highlighted the successful event - this is a sign of ResBaz expansion and spirit spreading!
Not only did I represent Intersect, I was also representing UTS as part of the UTS eResearch team. I was so delighted to see many UTS researchers attend this event, and benefit from the training and networking. This is in addition to our training courses provided at UTS and the Hacky Hour eResearch support by the UTS eResearch team that UTS researchers already have access to.
Last but not least, Intersect was one of the biggest supporters of ResBaz Sydney 2018. On top of being a major sponsor, one Intersect eResearch Analyst sat in the organising committee; 11 people were sent to ResBaz as instructors and helpers (some of them came to Sydney from Melbourne, Geelong, Canberra, Armidale and Newcastle), and six training workshops were led or co-instructed by Intersect.
I am looking forward to the next ResBaz Sydney in 2019! Which university will volunteer to host it? Stay tuned!
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