Supporting each other to support researchers - Summary

At eResearch 2019 Georgina Rae, Engagement Manager for NeSI, held a BoF session for the New Zealand eResearch Training Community.  Those in attendance ranged from librarians and engagement professionals to Carpentries leaders.  

In an attempt to better understand what gets in the way of researcher skill-development participants were asked to write down on sticky notes “What prevents effective collaboration in the eResearch training sector?”.  The responses were collected and sorted by co-facilitator Fabiana Kubke and can be found in the left-hand column of the table below. 

After considering these obstacles the BoF changed gears. Fabiana asked the attendees to break out into small groups of three to discuss what characteristics an ideal training community would have. After 5-10 minutes of brain-storming, each of the small groups shared their perspective with the whole. The training community ‘ideals’ that were mentioned are recorded on the right-hand side of the table below.

Many of the ideals that came up in the discussion mirrored obstacles that were mentioned earlier in the BoF, which is reflected in the side by side layout of the table.

The training community BoF ended with each of the participants sharing what ‘ideal’ they considered to be the highest priority moving forward. Hands-down, the community as a whole was most concerned with raising the collective awareness of NZ training sector events and initiatives.  Most (if not all) felt that the level of communication between trainers, institutions, and regions could improve.     

Moving forward, NeSI wants to help the eResearch training community achieve better communication.  We have started a NZ training community email list, host regular Carpentries community calls, and hope to trial a training community Google group with a shared calendar. 

If you want to share your ideas or be added to the NZ training community email list we would love to hear from you! Please contact NeSI’s Training Coordinator Megan Guidry at





Time and Location

  • physical distance

  • Awkward time zones

  • Not having enough time

  • Inefficient location of resources

  • ‘Making time’ for what is a priority (everything can’t get done - Fabiana is keeping us in-check ;)



  • Finite resources

  • Lack of funding

  • Problematic bureaucracy and politics

  • Everyone agrees it would be great to have lots of funding


The Angst Box

  • Lack of understanding

  • Great in theory, but ideas are just not practical

  • Not knowing who is running what training

  • Lack of awareness

  • Conflicting advice

  • Lack of contacts

  • Different language based on disciplines

  • Linking regional/ national/ and global initiatives

  • Communicating with others effectively

  • Having robust communication channels

  • Sharing the workload → exploiting the best ideas

  • Not reinventing the wheel

  • Matching skills with needs

  • Time-saving




Ugly Competitiveness

  • Territorialism

  • Conflicting Agendas

  • Different goals

  • Having clear incentives and the opportunity to get ‘credit’ for training

  • Normalizing failure

  • Channels for sharing learnings/ failures

  • Shared values

  • Trust and respect

  • Defined code of conduct



  • Lack of confidence

  • Ego

  • Teaching other people’s lessons feels odd

  • Lack  of experience

  • “Anti-social engineers”

  • Mental effort is too much

  • Don’t like change

  • Fun, enjoying the process

  • High morale

  • Enthusiasm

  • Embracing uncertainty


Ambiguous Impact

  • Measuring impact is hard

  • ‘You don’t know what you don’t know’ - how to promote training to those who would benefit


  • Learners have a clear path to progress on

  • Value for participants

  • There is a link between training value and resources

  • Better lesson plan standards/ guidelines

  • ‘Best practices’ to use as a guide