Interview with Professor Janeen Baxter
Professor Janeen Baxter has a long history of contributions in social science research including critical topics like social disadvantage, gender inequality, family dynamics, life course and longitudinal studies. She is the Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course in the Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Queensland. Janeen serves on several editorial boards for national and international journals and has been a member and Chair of the College of Experts for the Australian Research Council. Janeen is an elected fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a former member of its executive committee. She is currently a member of several government advisory committees and research advisory boards, including the Expert Advisory Board for the Singapore Longitudinal Early Development Study.
CIRES Centre Director Professor Shazia Sadiq interviewed Janeen in 2022. Janeen outlined the variety of data in social science research and highlighted the importance of longitudinal data. Where the study of lifecourse patterns and outcomes can be transformational, the big challenge is that you have to wait a lifetime to get the data, and often the groups most important to the study e.g. disadvantaged groups, would drop out or be hard to track. Janeen emphasised the importance of diverse ways of data collection such as retrospective data or government administrative data, although each has its challenges such as recall bias or repurposing respectively. Janeen also identified significant challenges in data linking and privacy preservation where she sees the critical role of multi-disciplinary teams where sociologists, data engineers and machine learning experts can work hand-in-hand to balance data processing efficiencies with social licence and responsible use of data.
Professor Baxter’s advice for research students: “Keep updating your skills don’t be afraid to step outside your area to ensure your research remains relevant and engaged.”
Information Resilience refers to the capacity of organisations to create, protect, and sustain agile data pipelines, that are capable of detecting and responding to failures and risks across their associated value chains in which the data is sourced, shared, transformed, analysed, and consumed.
CIRES is working with public and private sector organisations across Australia to reduce time-to-value from their data assets through increased workforce capacity and cutting-edge systems and tools.
The numerous socio-technical challenges of achieving information resilience are prevalent in every industry sector and science is no exception. In this interview series, we talk to some of Australia’s top scientists about their experiences and insights into the opportunities and challenges in the collection, curation, and use of scientific data. The series focuses on researchers at The University of Queensland working in data intensive domains with major data challenges including Emeritus Professor Ian Frazer AC, Professor Janeen Baxter, and Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg.
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