The Australian Data Archive (ADA) is a consortium of leading national Australian universities, managed by the Australian National University (ANU). ADA was established at the ANU in 1981 with a brief to provide a national service for the collection and preservation of computer readable data relating to social, political and economic affairs and to make these data available for further analysis.
A team of professional data archivists, advised by a panel of leading social scientists, provides both stewardship and outreach services to the Australian community. The archive:
- acquires, documents, preserves and disseminates data online to a broad range of social science researchers in the university, government, and other sectors
- provides the only comprehensive social science data collection in Australia, with a catalogue of around 2070 data sets
- holds data from Australian surveys, opinion polls and censuses and includes data from other countries within the Asia Pacific region
- is continually expanding and diversifying its collection
- provides specialist services within specific subject areas, including Indigenous studies, electoral behaviour, criminology and some humanities disciplines, and within specific data types, including quantitative, qualitative, time series and panel data, and historical statistics
- locates and manages access to overseas social science data sets required by Australian based researchers
- adopts, develops and applies standards in line with international best practice
- belongs to international organisations (such as the International Federation of Data Organizations and the International Association of Social Science Information Service and Technology) and plays a major role in cross-national collaborative projects
- plays an important role on behalf of the Australian Research Council (ARC) through the management and dissemination of ARC funded data collections arising from Discovery and Linkage grants
As well as the central management at the ANU, archive nodes have been progressively established across the country. These currently include The University of Queensland, the University of Western Australia, the University of Technology, Sydney and the University of Melbourne. These nodes provide a national coverage of specialist services and thematic archives with particular foci. The ANU Supercomputer Facility provides the online data services and supporting infrastructure, and develops this cyberinfrastructure for the needs of the consortium.