UTS eResearch Strategy Update 2017

About this document

This is the first annual update on the eResearch program at UTS. It tracks our progress towards our strategic goals in the 2016-2020 eResearch strategy which was approved in late 2016.

Context: UTS Strategic direction

The UTS vision is to be a world-leading university of technology – we will do this by embedding and showcasing leading edge IT and other technologies in all disciplines.

The goal of the 2016-2020 UTS Research Strategy is to increase the intensity, excellence, impact and reputation of our research to position UTS clearly within the top 10 Australian universities overall, and the top 10 in chosen fields globally, by 2020.

eResearch Strategy

The eResearch Strategy outlines how UTS will organise, prioritise and invest in eResearch infrastructure, services and support to raise researcher capability and productivity.

Success criteria for the UTS eResearch Strategy:

  • Researchers and their students have access to best in class research infrastructure consistent with a world-leading university of technology

  • UTS is seen as a leader in research data management, with mature practices and systems for capturing, managing, sharing and reusing research data

  • IT systems support researchers, not vice versa.

Progress in 2017


2016 state

End of 2017 update

2020 Goal


Compute & storage established & supported locally

Nationally-linked interactive HPC (iHPC - AKA Mid Range Compute) project is approved ; starts Q1 2018 with the service expected to be in use in Q2 2018.

We have now consolidated all on-site research storage (about 800TB) into one scalable facility (Isilon), and are tracking storage growth, with future growth projections covered by planned capital infrastructure projects.

A contract has been signed with AARNet for CloudStor cloud storage – this gives UTS 100TB of nationally supported, backed-up, shareable cloud storage , which in the future will allow improved access to national research services.

We upgraded our compute facilities during 2017:

  • New HPC nodes installed

  • Extensive updates and more user-friendly HPC documentations

  • 300TB+ storage consolidations to Isilon

  • Users now use their UTS login credentials for the HPC

  • Improved reproducibility and re-use of computational workflows via the use of the Singularity container solution.

Public cloud compute trials for bioinformatics workflows are under way to explore the possibilities of accessing both public and national research clouds in flexible and cost-effective ways.

Nationally linked compute & storage with integrated support

Research Data Management

Catalogue live but fragmented RDM support

The eNotebook (Lab Archives) initial rollout is complete, and support is available through the helpdesk. A follow-up project for UTS-wide rollout is scheduled for the second-half of 2018.

REDCap, a new service to securely manage clinical trial data, as well as general surveys, is hosted by Intersect. Starting in the first half of the year, it now has more than 70 users and 39 active projects.

Stash 2.0 for managing research data management plans (RDMPs) has been released with new management features, improved reliability, and integration into ResearchMaster and CASS systems.

Provisioner is in development for release Q3 2018. Components include:

  • Stash 3.0, a streamlined replacement for managing RDMPs and Dataset descriptions

  • Integrated research service catalogue linked to RDMPs

  • Automated ‘housekeeping’ services via ‘Provisioner Bot’ such as setting permissions for research groups, or batch-creating eNotebooks for cohorts of PhD students.

New research code management and publication via GitLab launches Q1 2018.

End-to-end RDM support including data repository

Research Facilities

Data Arena open for business but all facilities need better RDM

The Provisioner (RDM) project is underway linking services to Research Data Management & Planning (see above).

The OMERO repository for microscopy has been installed in the Microbial Imaging Facility (MIF) and work has started on creating facility-specific workflows and metadata customisations.

eResearch is collaborating with other facilities on data management planning as part of our business-as-usual work.

Data Arena:

  • Calendar bookings & forward estimates for December show 7284 people visited the Data Arena in 2017. There were 735 individual bookings, covering 925 hours for the year. 81% of the bookings were from UTS Staff & Students, 19% were external (Industry/Government).

  • There were 73 data visualisation projects created in the Data Arena in 2017. There have been 253 projects since preparation work began in 2014. The Data Arena theatre opened 21 July 2015. Storage for all these projects and data amounts to 35TB.

  • Version-1 of the Data Arena Virtual Machine (DAVM), which allows users to create visualizations independently of the facility, was released in July 2017. DAVM Training Workshops which followed have been regularly filled to capacity.

Data Arena and other facilities integral to world-leading research

Researcher Capability

Unevenly distributed, some training and advice available

UTS hosted ResBaz 2017 in collaboration with other Sydney-based universities: an event where early career and HDR researchers can upskill and collaborate with cohorts from other institutions - feedback was very positive.

Continuing with best-effort training and mentoring:

  • Intersect-led training courses continue to run

  • Hacky-hour, a weekly tech meetup at Penny Lane is growing – up to ten researchers attend term-time sessions and there are some regulars as part of the eResearch community at UTS.

  • Six-monthly outreach sessions for HPC and interactive HPC (ARCLab) now established .

  • eResearch took the lead in creating a ‘whole-of-UTS’ training calendar

  • eResearch, along with the Connected Intelligence Centre contributed a paper on researcher development to the Data Science Strategy committee.

  • See item on eResearch steering committee below.

All HDRs and researchers have access to training & support

Support Model

Locally (non-integrated) support

The eResearch and Research Data Management Steering Committee was established and has met twice.

  • The committee developed a paper on eResearch as an input to a whole-of-UTS research training committee which will meet for the first time in Q1 2018.

A survey to collect:

  • data about researcher requirements

  • feedback on eResearch Support service levels

has been drafted and will be run in 2018.

Research driven, & support integrated across central units

Future work

The following table shows our current assumptions about projected work over the 2018-2020 period.



2019 – 2020


2020 Goal


Begin a 3-year iHPC* project to:

  • Replace ARCLab with nationally-linked UTS NeCTAR zone (one-third to be replaced each year for three years)

  • Begin to merge batch and interactive HPC onto a common platform

  • Prepare for greater integration with national and public cloud services.

*interactive HPC (AKA Mid Range Compute)

Storage upgrades will take place via routine infrastructure project.

Continue development of iHPC, looking for opportunities to integrate with national services.

Maximise computing use by introducing scheduling systems in addition to batch queuing.

Integrate local, national and public cloud computing.

Link CloudStor and local (Isilon) storage.

Provide self-service access to more research apps via the Stash 3.0 Provisioner service catalogue

Nationally linked compute & storage with integrated support

Research Data Management

Release Stash 3.0 (see above)

As part of the rollout of new Research Data Management Policy, work to increase the number of RDMPs in Stash, and add new services to Provisioner to make this more useful to researchers.

Add long-term archiving and preservation services.

End to end RDM support, including data repository

Research Facilities

Capture legacy data at the Data Arena and MIF.

Work with other UTS facilities as part of business-as-usual.

Add new services as agreed under eResearch program.

Data Arena and other facilities integral to world-leading research

Researcher Capability

In addition to current activities (see above), work with the new Research Development Committee on a whole-of-UTS approach to researcher development.

Special eResearch focus areas for 2018:

  • General: compile a service catalogue of and promote eResearch services via regular engagement at forums and faculty meetings.

  • Viz: improve literacy in visualisation across the university, via new courses and promoting the Data Arena Virtual Machine.

TBA – based on outcomes of work in 2018.

All HDRs and researchers have access to training & support

Support model

Review computing services, NeCTAR computing and interactive HPC to optimize return on investment.

Continue to engage with the new National Research Data Cloud as it is defined.

Get the eResearch and RDM committee to the point where it can genuinely steer eResearch projects (this means working with members on their understanding of the eResearch landscape).

Align eResearch roadmap with the forthcoming Research Performance program (in development).

Run survey (see above).

Integrate eResearch with Research Performance program (in development)

Research driven, & support integrated, across central units