Bringing You Australian Research

Trove is not just about the past. Learn how to find current Australian research.

Trove is best known for millions of pages of digitised Australian newspapers. But did you know Trove is also a gateway to current Australian research? And that research publications are often available for immediate download? For free?

Where does this research come from?

Most of Australia’s research institutions including universities, the CSIRO, government and private research institutes, industry bodies, and some Australian peer-reviewed journals are Trove contributors. Every year they produce thousands of publications ranging from theses, to journal articles, public policy documents, and large health and ecological studies.

All these great publications are kept in databases called institutional repositories that are open to the public for searching and often downloading. Sounds too good to be true? It’s not – researchers want you to find, understand and use their work. Funding bodies also want to see that all Australians can find and utilise the research they’ve paid for. The only problem is that with so many institutions it can be hard to know where to start looking for your topic area. That’s where Trove comes in, bringing all those bits of research together into one search. 

Picture of Research assistant Naomi Petrie drilling an ice core sample
Research assistant Naomi Petrie drilling an ice core sample with the RSV Aurora Australis in the background, Antarctica, October 2002, http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-vn4981352

Great, how do I find it in Trove?

The bulk of this research can be found in the ‘Journals, articles and data sets’ zone (more than 700,000 works) or the ‘Books’ zone (more than 100,000 works). There are a smaller number of items across the other zones too.

Start by typing in your search term then check the two boxes beneath the Search box – ‘Available Online’ and ‘Australian content’.

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Then pick a field you’re interested in! If photovoltaics sounds like something you want to know more about, then you’ll find articles from 5 different Australian universities on the first page of results.

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Even better, there’s more than just journal articles. Have a look on the left of the screen and you’ll see the ‘Refine your results’ heading, which gives you an overview of the types of records found in this search. Click ‘Data set’ and you’ll find records leading you to the data set, or raw data, collected in the course of this research.

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You can access, download and re-use this data yourself to verify the researcher’s conclusions or do entirely new research.

If the item shows as ‘View Online’ on Trove’s search results screen, then it's probably free to view. Click this link to jump right to the institutional repository.

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I should make clear that not every item is free to download right away, some have restrictions on access. But you’ll usually be given an abstract and enough details about the item to confirm it’s the one you want. The institutional repository or your local library can then help you get access.

Frog populations, biogas, theatre reviews, gender in the mining industry, sustainable urban design, osteoporosis, colonial Queensland – if someone in Australia has done research on it, then you can probably find it in Trove.

History

If you’re curious as to how all this got started, where else would you look but Trove? The archived websites zone has a final snapshot of ARROW – the original online portal that started this collaboration more than a decade ago.

How does it get into Trove?

For those who care about the ‘How’ – we use a process called harvesting. Picture a paddock planted with wheat. Now picture a farmer driving along in a combine harvester, cutting off the stalks, separating the grain out from the straw, and spitting the grain into a big bucket. Trove does the same thing, only digitally, regularly going out to those institutional repositories and picking up all the new records – all those new papers and pieces of research. We don’t take a copy of the entire thing, just the record describing it. This is known as metadata.

'Metadata' really just means the things you’d use to describe an article, like the title, authors, publication date and so on. With the same descriptive structure, Dublin Core, used to create every record from all those different institutions, we can provide a single consistent search across all of them.

Where to from here?

With all this great consistent data we can start to think about different ways of finding and using it. You can already find research funded by the Australian government through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Australian Research Council (ARC). See the Trove help system for more on creating and using records with grant identifiers.

That’s not all – we know bright people will come along and do different kinds of research, displaying this data in different ways, and that’s what the Trove API is for. Maybe in the future we will see rankings of institutions by the number of papers they output each year, or league tables of Australian researchers (just who is the most prolific?). We could also see visualisations of the subject areas Australia is putting time and money into, and those that are being neglected.

And then there's the questions we haven’t yet thought to ask. There are so many possibilities.

[Post authored by Trove team member Julia.]

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