A/PROF Gavan McCarthy

A/PROF Gavan McCarthy


  • e-Scholarship, Humanities computing, Cultural Informatics (Archives, Museums, Libraries, History of Australian Science and Technology)



  • 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, <i> Guide to the Archives of Science in Australia: Records of Individuals </i> (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 <a href="http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/" title="Bright Sparcs home page"><i>Bright Sparcs</i></a>. 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), an



Member of

  • Australian Society of Archivists. Professional Member 1985 - 2005


Selected publications


Investigator on

Additional Grant 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 Aborigina   


Education and training

  • MA, Monash University 1995
  • BA, La Trobe University 1980

Awards and honors

  • For contributions advancing archival practice, National Archives of Australia - Ian McLean Award, 2007



Available for supervision

  • Y

Supervision Statement

  • I would be most interested to here from students wishing to undertake PhD studies in archival science and social and cultural informatics with a particular focus on the development of public knowledge spaces, contextual information frameworks and the utilisation of information in the public for community good. Projects will have a strong digital component, and so fit under the broad heading of digital humanities. As a rule I will be a co-supervisor with the lead supervisor being located in a department and faculty appropriate to the project. For example, I have students in the Melbourne Business School, information systems and law.