IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


FAIR Data Accelerator Pilot: Evolving work practices in research communities

This research project will explore how digital infrastructure is changing research practices in science communities to make hidden social and cultural challenges and barriers to data sharing visible.

This project runs from November 2023 to June 2025 funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the UK Government Department for Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT).


Project lead



The way science communities undertake scientific investigation is changing due to the introduction of new Digital Research Infrastructures (DRIs). These facilities provide services and resources to science communities in ways that generate new knowledge in novel ways e.g. by producing exabyte levels of data, and transforming how data is gathered, used and shared.

The challenges of implementing exascale DRI facilities extend beyond technical issues and includes human cultural and social aspects that need to be recognised and further examined – i.e., how scientists respond to changes in their context and how non-human entities (e.g. state-of-the-art supercomputers) mobilise their agency and produce norms, knowledges and visions. 

In that context, this project explores how DRI is changing research practices, ways of working and ways of knowing in science communities. The project extends our knowledge and understanding of social and cultural barriers to implementing the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) and co-designs ways to make data sharing more accessible to researchers. We uncover unseen challenges experienced by communities of scientists. We then using these insights to support science communities in the co-design of simple and effective forms of professional development that can accelerate the use of FAIR (Findable, Usable, Interoperable, Reusable) data within and across science communities.

Dr Louise Chisholm is working on this project in the capacity of her UKSRC work. 


This study brings together sociology, educational research and digital research infrastructure expertise and explores how science communities using Digital Research Infrastructures (DRIs) change their ways of working and research practices (e.g. data sharing). 

We combine two approaches using a 'Co-laborative ethnography' perspective (Niewöhner 2016; 2019; Bieler et al. 2021): digital ethnography (online interviews, online participant observation and mobile ethnography) and participatory co-design of professional development (group discussions, practical design activities).
In Phase 1 we use digital ethnography to making hidden social and cultural challenges and barriers to data sharing visible. These outcomes inform Phase 2 the co-design of evidence-based interventions tailored for the respective research community’s needs.

Potential outcomes include toolkits to support collaborative working across disciplines, techniques to develop trusted relationships between data users and providers, or ways of creating a more equitable working environment. Project insights will inform community engagement and career development activities within and across existing and new DRI services.