Welcome to the Research Bazaar

dejan-smallDejan Jotanovic is the engagement, social media and communications officer at Research Platforms (ResPlat) Services at the University of Melbourne.

ResPlat provides research support with services such as cloud computing, data management and training in research tools and skills.

Dejan has also recently completed a Master of Public Policy & Management, with interests in inequality, social and science policy. Prior to this Dejan has completed an Honours in Psychology from the University of Melbourne. 

Twitter: @heyDejan / email: dejan.jotanovic@gmail.com

The Research Bazaar (ResBaz) is your one-stop shop for digital research tools, skills, and a community of support!

In late 2013, David F. Flanders (my boss) recognised a problem: with over 500 research tools and apps available to researchers across a plethora of faculties and disciplines, a traditional information technology helpdesk wouldn’t suffice. In reality, the modern complexities of research far surpassed the basic needs of bibliography management and a proficiency in Microsoft Word. Data had become Big. There was talk of a ‘Cloud’. Inter-disciplinary was the new “it” word.

The smell of a shifting research game was pungent in the air. David’s solution was to create a community of support around research tools. Rather than sit down and teach research tools (R-stat, Python, CAD, MATLAB, CartoDb – the list goes on and on) to each individual researcher, build a supportive, dynamic, diverse community that has the ability to reproduce knowledge without the constant requirement of top-down support. A community could help people to research better, faster, smarter. And so the Research Bazaar – ResBaz – was born.

ResBaz 2015 | Photo courtesy of Dejan Jotanovic
ResBaz 2015 | Photo courtesy of Dejan Jotanovic

My first real taste of ResBaz was through an informal home BBQ at the very beginning of my career at the University of Melbourne’s ‘Research Platforms Services’. Much like Nick Fury with the Avengers, David scoured the University campus and assembled a team rich in diversity, faculty, and research-based skills.

My role? I was stamped with the title of ‘social media guru’ as I had an understanding of the importance of digital communication and community building. Just as research was increasingly being pumped through the cloud, so were our communication channels and communities. I was in charge of crafting our social media strategy, the ‘voice’ for ResBaz and making our presence well-known around campus (and beyond!). If you’re reading this now, it’s clear that I’ve successfully met my KPI! *wink*

But what exactly is ResBaz?

All good things come in threes: campaign, community, and conference.

ResBaz is a campaign around teaching (much demanded) research tools through a peer-to-peer community-led system. We believe that PhD students should be teaching PhD students – they know the struggle, and the struggle is real. Our trainers – and helpers – are therefore all fellow students.

ResBaz is a community. Our goal (after training is done and dusted) is to keep our researchers using their newfound knowledge. That’s why we created #HackyHour, a weekly (and informal) consultation hour at the local University bar where researchers come along with their data woes and we offer a helping hand (and free beer). [For all those University of Melbourne readers, #HackyHour runs every Thursday, 3pm, at Tsubu Bar – see the table with the garish sign and littered with laptops.]

And, of course, ResBaz is a conference. The Research Bazaar 2016 will be a free 3-day intensive academic conference aimed at training researchers in digital research skills and tools. ResBaz 2016 is multi-site, with events being held in Melbourne, Perth, Sydney & Brisbane, Australia; and Auckland & Dunedin, New Zealand. In Melbourne (for example), we’ll be teaching ten different streams: MATLAB, R, Python, NLTK, 3D Printing, 3D Slicer, HTML/ CSS/ JavaScript, D3 Data Visualization; and CartoDB/ TileMill for mapping. We’ll also be offering minor streams and electives in tools/ skills such as Omeka, REDCap, LaTeX, and using social media to enhance your research profile.

Inside the RezBaz 2015 tent | Photo courtesy of Dejan Jotanovic
Inside the RezBaz 2015 tent | Photo courtesy of Dejan Jotanovic

The beauty of ResBaz, however, doesn’t all lie in the academic programs.

The conference (though, let’s be honest, it feels more like a festival) will be drenched in social events and community building. While the tool and skill learning requires you to take a step forward in your research, we also ask everyone to take a step back – to reflect on why we’ve chosen a life of research.

In 2015, attendees had opportunities to listen to ‘key-stories’ from seasoned research experts about how they thrived under pressure, got through loneliness, and found alternative methods of succeeding beyond the academy. We opened up the floor to attendees to share their own research journey through a series of ‘lightning talks’, sharing their research passions and results. We invited other research communities to give ‘guru talks’ and introduce our attendees to the support services they provide. We also gave the attendees the opportunity to camp out on the event’s lawn, do yoga each morning, and play board-games into the evening. ResBaz was, and needed to be, more than just tools and skills.

At ResBaz 2015, we asked all attendees to finish the following sentence on a piece of coloured fabric: “I hope my research helps the world by…”, which we then tied up all around the ResBaz tent (have I mentioned that the first ResBaz took place under a large bedouin tent?).

After three days of up-skilling, of networking, of plunging head-first into the ResBaz community, seeing those bright and vibrant flags flapping all around the tent – it was our ‘aha’ moment. It was the point at which we all realised that regardless of career stage or institution, research topic or department, we were all at ResBaz due to a common goal: to make the world, and our society, a better place.

That is, in my opinion, the true meaning of ResBaz. A community of support in diverse research for diverse researchers.

To find out more, check out our RezBaz FAQ and read about the 2015 event.  If you want to start your own Research Bazaar in the future, have a look at out RezBaz cookbook. If you’re interested in applying for ResBaz, head on over to the RezBaz 2016 regististration page. All welcome!

ResBaz 2015 | Photo courtesy of Dejan Jotanovic
ResBaz 2015 | Photo courtesy of Dejan Jotanovic


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