NIF User Satisfaction Survey 2019 – Results

Thank you to everyone who participated in the National Imaging Facility User Satisfaction Survey! These results will be used to inform NIF direction and strategy through reports to the NIF Governing Board and the Department of Education and Training, ensuring we continue to meet the needs of the Australian research community.

pie chart showing the breakdown of current role/level of respondents

We received a total of 149 responses from users affiliated with over 25 Universities, institutes, and research organisations. Students were slightly underrepresented compared to other academic roles; could it be that they’re unaware that the facilities they access are NIF? If you’re a student accessing NIF Facilities, tell us what you think!

Bubble chart showing the breakdown of respondents research fields


The fields that NIF users identified with was heavily focused on biomedical and health-related research, with neuroscience topping the list at 37% of responses. It came as no surprise, then, to see that more than half our users identify with the Human Imaging theme.

Pie chart showing 54% of users identify with the human imaging theme

NIF has excellent instrumentation for investigating the brain, including two impressive ultra-high-field 7T MRIs, a network of 3T MRIs, human PET/CT and MEG capabilities. It’s worth noting that we have a great array of imaging capabilities that are used in areas as diverse as palaeontology, veterinary science, and agriculture, contributing to non-health research. So, don’t be shy if you’re not researching the brain or the human body. Ask us how we can help image your samples today!

pie chart showing 43% of respondents had utilised other NCRIS facilities, with a gauge chart breakdown of those facilities

More than half of the respondents indicated they have never utilised another NCRIS facility! NCRIS is the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, enabling the world-class instrumentation available across Australia for the research community to access.  We can see that NIF users commonly access the computation and data infrastructure capabilities, supporting imaging data storage, analysis, management, and curation. NIF Fellows have a great deal of expertise in this area, let us know if you would like help with data practices or to help point you to the right NCRIS capability for your research.

bar chart showing that most respondents rated their satisfaction as 4 or 5 (highly satisfactory)

We are so pleased to see that the majority of our users are satisfied with the level of support they receive when accessing NIF facilities! We can see an area for improvement surrounding the data analysis and management. We hear you, and we are planning to bring on more Informatics Fellows to support NIF users across the country in this area. The odd result here is ‘communications with NIF Fellows’, especially given the high levels of satisfaction with other areas of support! I wonder how we could get this rating to 5 for more users? We are always improving the user experience; to walk the walk, we need your feedback!

Tell us about your experiences:

Did you miss your chance to give feedback in this survey? You can email us, chat with your local NIF Facility Fellow, or you can follow this link to submit your ideas to a rolling survey. We won’t be using these results for reporting, but can still accept anonymous feedback this way!

Once again, a huge thank you to all users participating in this survey.



NIF Annual Meeting 2019









The NIF Annual Meeting was held June 18 – 20th 2019. At the green St Lucia campus of the University of Queensland, Fellows, Directors, and Board Members from across the country gathered in the Centre for Advanced Imaging (CAI).

The Fellows’ Program kicked off with a FAIR data principles and Characterisation Virtual Laboratory (CVL) workshop. Here, Fellows were reminded about FAIR data principles and had assistance in opening CVL accounts.


A seminar room in workshop configuration filled with people focussed on laptops and a presenter at a lectern

If you’re interested in CVL, why not sign up for the CVL Champions Program? Applications close July 31st!


four images of people seated around various tables, eating and drinking

The first day was wrapped up by an informal BBQ in the fresh Brisbane air


On day 2, we enjoyed the Fellows Mini-Symposium boasting the theme of ‘collaboration’. These talks showcased the cutting-edge projects and facilities that 11 of our NIF Facility and Informatics Fellows have been working on. An open discussion followed lunch, spawning ideas to collaborate on a new atlasing project, enhance the utility of the CVL Program, and the identity of NIF as a go-to imaging brand.


People standing in groups chatting while holding plates of food

Morning and afternoon tea was always stimulating and delicious!


The three NIF Thematic Groups met in the afternoon of Day 2 to discuss their latest challenges, share expertise, and develop action plans for their National Initiatives. Each of the Themes is working towards a National Initiative relevant to their user base, improving research quality and availability across the country. These fascinating discussions and more continued on into the evening for our final dinner together.


Graham standing before a projection of a Powerpoint slide on the right with NIF Fellows and Associates seated seminar style on the left


Day 3 opened early with an address by the NIF CEO, Graham Galloway, congratulating the three NIF Professional Development Grant winners, Dr Karine Mardon, Dr Tom Close, and Ms Diana Patalwala. Their awards have taken them to laboratories and events around the globe! We also welcomed Dr Rob Smith, Dr Tonima Ali, and Dr Paula Martinez Villegas to the ranks. At the same time, we bid a fond farewell to Dr Kirk Feindel, and wish him every success in the next stage of his career. NIF has enjoyed great successes over the past year, including an additional $53m investment via the NCRIS program. With the transition from a representative Board to an independent governing Board only a few months ago, NIF can expect exciting challenges ahead. Watch this space to see how we plan to continue engaging and collaborating across Australia!


NIF Fellows seated in groups focusing on a brainstorming activity


Next, we all discussed ways of sharing our outcomes and facilitating reporting, wrapped up with some fun group activities to ignite creativity and collaborative communication!


An emoticon face with a question mark

What is informatics, and how can NIF help you with your data needs? Get in touch today! Email us at NIF Central or contact your local NIF Fellow:


The meeting was finished off with an open discussion focussed on informatics, data curation, and repository systems. Two great ideas came from this discussion; persistent identifiers for instruments, allowing researchers to cite the instrument in publications, and an online knowledge repository (such as a wiki) for sharing workflows and processes. We look forward to supporting these initiatives!


The NIF Group standing on the steps of CAI


It was sad to say goodbye to all the NIF Fellows, Node Directors, Board Members and Associates at the end of our three-day meeting, but we are reassured by the plan to meet again in April or May 2020 in Sydney! Until then, we will continue to share our stories and build on the initiatives that we’re so excited about.


NIF pays its respects to the traditional custodians of the land upon which we met. We acknowledge both the Jagera people and the Turrbul people and their Elders, past, present, and emerging, for they hold the hopes, dreams, traditions and cultures of Aboriginal Australia.

National Network of Trusted Data Repositories

During 2017 the National Imaging Facility (NIF) nodes at the University of Western Australia (UWA), University of Queensland (UQ), University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Monash University collaborated on a national project to enhance the quality, durability and reliability of data generated by NIF through the Trusted Data Repository project.

●        Quality pertains to a NIF user’s expectation that an animal, plant or material can be scanned and from that data reliable outcomes/characterisations can be obtained (e.g. signal, volume, morphology) over time and across NIF sites.

●        Durability refers to guaranteed long-term availability of the data.

●        Reliability means that the data is useful for future researchers, i.e. stored in one or more open data formats and with sufficient evidential metadata.

The Project, Delivering durable, reliable, high-quality image data, was jointly funded by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) and Research Data Services (RDS). It was motivated both by NIF’s desire to enhance the quality of the data associated with the use of its facilities, and the desire of ANDS/RDS to facilitate the establishment of Trusted Data Repositories that enable access to data for at least 10 years and includes metadata that documents both the quality of the data and its provenance.

A trusted data repository service is essential for sharing data and ensures that project data created and used by researchers is “managed, curated, and archived in such a way to preserve the initial investment in collecting them” and that the data “remain useful and meaningful into the future” (

The scope of the Project was limited to MRI data with the understanding that the developed requirements and trusted data repository services could be adapted to, or serve as a basis for other instruments/modalities.

The key outcomes from the Project include:

  1. The NIF agreed process for acquiring trusted data (NAP) – Lists the requirements that must be satisfied to obtain high-quality data, i.e. NIF-certified data, suitable for ingestion in a NIF trusted data repository service. They cover provisioning of a unique instrument identifier, instrument registration with Research Data Australia (, quality control (QC), quality assurance measures, requisite metadata (including cross-reference to the QC data),  the process by which data is moved from the instrument to the digital repository service and the format(s) of the data.
  2. The NIF requirements for a trusted data repository service – Provides a platform-agnostic checklist of requirements that a basic NIF trusted data repository service should satisfy, including: identification of data by a unique Project identifier, ingestion of data from NIF-compliant instruments, authentication via the Australian Access Federation (, interoperability and easy deployment across NIF nodes.
  3. Implementations of trusted data repository services for two exemplars:
    1. Preclinical MRI data (with mouse brain data as an example) acquired across three NIF nodes—UNSW, UQ and UWA—using a Bruker BioSpec 9.4T MRI. The services have been implemented using the open source MyTardis/ImageTrove ( platform.
    2. Clinical ataxia MRI data acquired using a Siemens Skyra 3T MRI scanner in support of a Monash-proposed International Ataxia Imaging Repository (IAIR). The service has been Implemented using the open source XNAT ( platform.

Software developed to support the implementation of the repository services includes: Docker ( Compose scripts to permit easy deployment at differents sites, client-side scripts for uploading NIF-certified data to ImageTrove/MyTardis and an XNAT plugin for uploading non-DICOM files.

  1. Assessments of the resulting trusted data repository services against a relevant international metric, the CoreTrustSeal ( Core Trustworthy Data Repositories Requirements.

For NIF users and the broader imaging research community the benefits and impact of this Project include:

  • Reliable and durable access to data
  • Improved reliability of research outputs and the provenance associated with it
  • Making NIF data more FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable –
  • Easier linkages between publications and data
  • Stronger research partnerships

For research institutions they include:

  • Enhanced reputation management
  • A means by which to comply with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Enhanced ability to engage in multi-centre imaging research projects

For NIF they include

  • Improved data quality
  • Improved international reputation
  • The ability to run multi-centre trials

The transition plan post-funding includes: maintenance of existing services for 10 years; the integration of additional instruments; creation of a project web portal; planned new national and international service deployments; refinements and improvements; and CoreTrustSeal certification.

Project documents have been archived in the NIF Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system (accessible by NIF staff). Project software is hosted on GitHub and is freely available for download here: For further information please contact either the national Project Manager or NIF.

Project Manager and UWA lead: Andrew Mehnert (NIF Informatics Fellow, Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis).
NIF lead – Graham Galloway (Chief Executive Officer, NIF)
UQ lead – Andrew Janke (NIF Informatics Fellow, Centre for Advanced Imaging)
UNSW lead – Marco Gruwel (Senior Research Associate, Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre)
Monash lead – Wojtek Goscinski (Associate Director, Monash eResearch Centre)

National network of trusted data repositories establish standard for the future

Imaging equipment such as MRI, PET and CT scanners are capable of producing vast amounts of valuable research data. In order to maximise research outcomes, data must be stored securely, have its quality verified, and should be accessible to the wider research community.

Informatics fellows from around Australia have combined their expertise to build a series of Trusted Data Repositories (TDR’s) to provide researchers with a secure location to store, share and curate their data.

This national project, Delivering durable, reliable, high-quality image data, jointly funded by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) and Research Data Services (RDS), guarantees the storage of data for at least 10 years for use in future research.

Led by the National Imaging Facility (NIF), the project brought together researchers and informatics specialists from UQ’s Centre for Advanced Imaging (CAI), Monash Biomedical Imaging (MBI), Monash eResearch Centre, the University of Western Australia, RCC (Research Computing Centre, UQ) and the University of NSW. Together, the team has established best practices for TDR’s to store imaging data nationally, through the NIF network.

To read the full article, please click on the following link:

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