Brussels, 01 Apr 2004
Finally, a faster way to find research stories and information on Europa, the Commission's web service. After many months of preparation and with greater emphasis on accessibility and improved data handling, the Research DG has launched its new Research Information Centre.
As explained on its front page, the new InfoCentre provides enhanced access to hundreds of articles and stories from several editorial sources, including RTD info, Research Headlines and Success Stories written about past EU-funded projects. All of the articles, written by or for the Research Directorate-General, have been indexed under relevant themes and sub-themes to help visitors find information on a specific research topic.
Among the 14 main research themes are agriculture and food, energy, environment, human resources and mobility, industrial research, continuing down the list to space, and transport. Clicking on one of these themes will take the visitor to a page which lists the stories available in this category, as well as several sub-categories for further refining the choice.
Under the 'pure science' theme, for instance, researchers will find around 60 items of interest which are also grouped under the sub-themes astronomy, biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and other. Using a customised system, the Research DG's editorial content is accessible via a single entry point. "This is a typical 'portal' approach," say the developers of the site, "whereby news and content issued from various sources is re-published 'dynamically' – using automated tools – in a standard, recognisable format."
In an effort to improve information dissemination, some articles may appear in several places. Initially, they will appear on dedicated websites, but will have been coded to appear in the InfoCentre, as well. To help people navigate their way around the Research DG's portal, all articles re-published in this way are linked to the original article.
Michel Claessens, acting head of the Communications unit at the Research DG, is confident the new service will help researchers and the general public better understand the European Union's activities in this field. "For many people, the goings on in the European Union and the Commission are a bit of a mystery," he admits. "What we hope to do with upgraded communication tools like the Research Information Centre is give people more insight into the research projects and priorities being supported by the Research DG."
The InfoCentre is part of a wider communication strategy aimed at improving awareness throughout society of European scientific achievement. This involves an enhanced web presence, competitions like the Descartes Prizes for excellent collaborative research and scientific writing, as well as various printed publications, such as leaflets and brochures on the thematic priorities of the Sixth Framework Programme for EU research funding, and regular magazines like RTD info and Euroabstracts .