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Gavan McCarthy

Director Escholarship Research Centre
History of Australian Science and Technology
science & technology
information science & library science
social sciences
arts & humanities
Gavan McCarthy's Profile Picture

Gavan McCarthy

Primary Interest
Gavan McCarthy's Profile Picture

Gavan McCarthy


Gavan McCarthy is a leader in the field of cultural informatics with emphasis on the building of sustainable information resources and services to support research. The Australian Science Archives Project, which commenced in 1985, pioneered the development of national information services and infrastructure to support the history of Australian science, technology, medicine and engineering through the utilisation of the emerging digital technologies.

McCarthy is noted in Australia and overseas for his innovative and research-driven approach. His book, Guide to the Archives of Science in Australia: Records of Individuals (D.W. Thorpe, 1991), was generated from a relational database and the content re-purposed for online publication, first on the pre-web Internet, and then on the web as Bright Sparcs. This data is still alive and actively maintained today and is regarded an exemplar of sustainable digital scholarly practice.

In 1995 his work was recognised internationally, and he has travelled overseas every year since to work with long-term collaborative partners such as Imperial College London and since 2002 with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It is here that he has been working a new conceptual approach to the immensely problematic issue of the long-term management of information about radioactive waste – the worst-case conceivable for multi-generational management of knowledge necessary for the well-being of society and the environment. However, using this same epistemic approach to sustainable information infrastructure has led to many successful ARC projects either as a technical partner or more recently as a Chief Investigator. McCarthy was amongst the first humanities scholars to receive ARC funding to support information infrastructure development (1992-1994), and has been consistently successful in the years since. The most publicly successful of these projects was the collaborative partnership with the Australian National University (2004-2006) to transform the Australian Dictionary of Biography into an online research resource of world stature.

The commercial success of the archiving software developed by his team, led to the creation of a research centre, the Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre (Austehc), in 1999. Recognising that the Austehc software, services and expertise were widely applicable across all disciplines in 2007 the University of Melbourne invited McCarthy to lead a new University-wide eScholarship Research Centre. He continues to participate in international standards projects he is currently working with the National Library of Australia on the People Australia project, which is arguably one of the most significant re-workings of our national information infrastructure since the information boom of the nineteenth century.

For more details go to: Bright Sparcs - Gavan McCarthy Biography page


Displaying the 10 most recent projects by Gavan McCarthy.



Project Types


Research Grant


Research Contracts


Internal Research Grant

Additional Information

1997 Chief Investigator of an Australian Research Council SPIRT project: Next Generation ADS - Controlling the Total Records Environment

1998 Associate Investigator on an Australian Research Council SPIRT project: Archival Metadata Standards for Managing and Accessing Information Resources in Networked Environments over Time for Government, Commerce, Social and Cultural Purposes. Location: Monash University

1998 Recipient of an Australian Research Council, Special Research Initiatives grant: Science, Technology and Medicine Archives International Research Network, which led to the Working with Knowledge conference.

2000 - 2001 Chief Investigator in Australian Research Council project [R0010792], The Australian Trade Union Heritage Resources Gateway, University of Melbourne

2000 - 2002 Project partner in Australian Research Council project, Authoritative Web-based Information to Support Australian Science and Technology, Learned Academies Special Project with the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering

2002 - 2005 Project partner in Australian Research Council project Images of Chinese in Australia, New Zealand, China and Southeas Asia, LaTrobe University

2003 Chief Investigator in Australian Research Council project [LE0347122], The Australian Women's Archive Project, University of Melbourne

2004 - 2005 Project partner in Australian Research Council projects [LE0452798 and LE0560774], The Australian Dictionary of Biography Online: A database of national biography facilitiating research into Australia's history, Australian National University

2005 Partner Investigator in Australian Research Council project [LE0561111], Unlocking Regional Memory:digitising global memory, University of Wollongong

2005 - 2007 Chief Investigator in Australian Research Council project [DP0558298]: A demographic and socio-medical history of the Aboriginal People of Victoria 1800-2000: reconstiutions and epidemiolgoical analysis, University of Melbourne.

2006 Chief Investigator in Australian Research Council project [LE06680026], The Australian Dictionary of Biography Online and Emerging National Information Systems: Networking Research Capability, Australian National University

Scholarly Works

Displaying the 10 most recent scholarly works by Gavan McCarthy.

Honours, Awards and Fellowships


For contributions advancing archival practice

National Archives of Australia - Ian McLean Award






Director Escholarship Research Centre



Historical And Philosophical Studies

Professional Member

Australian Society of Archivists



Master of Arts

Monash University

Bachelor of Arts

La Trobe University