Mario Bellardinelli, European Commission
Mario Bellardinelli, Head of the European Commission's Dissemination of Scientific and Technical Knowledge Unit, used the Nutcracker theme throughout his introductory speech, likening Research Information Systems to the nutcrackers which open up the potential of new technical information to SMEs. The importance of CRISs for European research policy was further underlined in the opening addresses.
Vicente Parajon Collada, European Commission
Vicente Parajon Collada, Deputy Director-General of DG XIII of the European Commission, saw a role for CRISs in improving Europe's "innovation deficit". He spoke of the development of the EU's own CRIS - CORDIS, the Community R&D Information Service - which now has over one million visits per month to its Website, testament to its improving user-friendliness and demonstrating that it provides its users with the service they want.
CORDIS is also the focus for the ERGO (European Research Gateways On-line) initiative which aims to provide a single entry point to information in both Community and national sources, while CERIF (Common European Research Information Format) ensures that the information in these different sources is accessible in a common, and comparable, format.
David Moore, UK Presidency
For David Moore, from the UK's Office of Science and Technology (OST), CRISs help bring research at European level closer to the citizen. In the context of the Fifth Framework Programme, they can help Europe create jobs and improve competitiveness.
Marco Walentiny, Luxembourg's Economic Ministry
Marco Walentiny, from the Economic Ministry of Luxembourg, emphasized his country's support for the various instruments of the INNOVATION programme, including CORDIS and the ERGO initiative. He went on to outline how these activities were being implemented at a national level in Luxembourg.
Three keynote speeches set the scene for discussions in two parallel sessions, one addressing "Marketing and exploitation of CRISs", and the second "Production and dissemination of CRISs". The three keynote speakers demonstrated the importance of CRISs, illustrating the clear need for them to provide access to the ever-growing body of research information available in Europe. However, as many of these services have not adapted to changes in the information market, particularly in areas such as user-friendliness, data quality and completeness, their usage is much lower than it ought to be.
Keynote presentation 1 - Dominique FORAY - CRIS, a cost or an investment? Models of innovation in the information age
- Increase in PAKS (Potentially Available Knowledge Stock)
For a number of reasons, there has been a significant increase in the stock of public and private knowledge that is available to actors in the research and innovation process.
- Adaptation to new context
Companies and organisations must adapt to the new context created by this "knowledge-rich world" and exploit its potential to the full. This requires an adaptation of strategies whereby the concentration on in-house knowledge is replaced by a broader "multichannel knowledge acquisition" which incorporates both internal and external sources.
However, the increasing dispersion and division of information presents problems for managing this new information-rich environment; these barriers could undermine the potential value of PAKS.
In order to ensure the continued growth and value of PAKS, public policy and the general approach of information, producers must focus on:
- Improving dissemination by reducing the degree of restrictive access to information;
- Improving codification of tacit knowledge;
- Improving distribution by enhancing technical infrastructures.
Keynote presentation 2 - Jürgen Krause - Innovative CRIS within the information society
- Deficiencies of existing CRIS
As well as the general "innovation gap", there is a gap within CRIS between state-of-the art information and the technical infrastructures of existing CRIS. This is caused by an overemphasis on technical perspectives at the expense of conceptual and organisational perspectives.
- Decline of data consistency
Four main developments contributing to this gap have been identified, one of which is the reduction of data consistency in the global context. Retrieval methods and content analysis need to be adapted to confront this new reality.
- Layer model
The development of a "layer model" could cope with the problem of a reduced data consistency. Starting with a nucleus of hard core information, the layer model allows for various other levels of relevance and content analysis. These different levels are related to each other in an integrated information system by transfer components. Norms and quality are not imposed, but rather coordinated and administered.
- Transfer between layers
The nucleus should exert a gravitational pull on the outer layers. Indeed, a key challenge for the layer model is to establish and implement effective strategies to enable the centre-orientated transition from one layer to another.
- Deregulation - the "Thatcherite approach to CRIS"!
The changes being proposed can be metaphorically described as a shift from a centrally planned economy to a free market economy, where information deregulation is accompanied by coordination and standardisation.
Keynote presentation 3 - Keith Jeffery - Future of CRIS
- CRIS suppliers have generally not adapted to the changes in the information market. This means their potential for contributing to narrowing the "innovation deficit" is not being fully exploited.
- Failure to adapt to new information markets manifested by expensive input/update procedures and a relatively low level of usage because of idiosyncratic systems and lack of interfacing / interworking.
- CRIS suppliers must, therefore, address features and facilities to improve access and utilisation.
- Metadata is the common dominator. It makes information visible, enabling:
- intelligently-assisted querying
- on-line help and intelligent interpretation of results
- quality control of input data
- systems to exchange information or participate in global queries over heterogeneous distributed systems
- Global standards currently being articulated - CRIS suppliers not participating in their definition and specification
1. Good practice in the production of CRIS
Research and development information: data collection system
Cartermill International Ltd., UK Cartermill demonstrated an interactive electronic data collection system built on Internet and WWW standards which allows researchers to supply and update R&D information directly into a core data repository. To ensure the long-term viability of this project, it is essential to address the needs of the individual researchers and research community at large.
Demonstration of Bergen University developmental activities in the field of web-based functionalities in their CRIS system The presentation of the Bergen University CRIS system focused on the following topics:
Anne Asserson and Johanne Revheim,
Bergen University Library, Norway
- Result documentation
- Use of classification
- User friendly and flexible
- Publication lists with different sorting possibilities and option to choose different bibliographical reference styles
Managing a sectoral CRIS in Web: The CRIS for the Finnish Forest Cluster The guiding principle of the Forest Cluster Databank is to collect information about public R&D projects into an easy-to-use Internet-based information service. The objective of the service is to identify those projects, which are currently in progress or have recently been completed as well as provide ways of contacting the organizations implementing the project and other necessary information. Subject areas range from the bio-diversity of the forests to markets for paper products, from the environmental effects of the cellulose industry to the most recent techniques of producing wood-based energy. The objective of the databank is to: 1) facilitate access to information and further its utilization, 2) promote cooperation inside the forest cluster, 3) improve the quality of existing projects.
Timo Tahvanainen, Sordino Information Systems Ltd, Finland
Research Information System at Czech Universities Today Czech Universities are facing two important tasks, both of them influencing its future: how to make its research more market driven; how to disseminate efficiently the research information.
Petr Holec, Czech Republic
The demonstration of the Czech information system addresses the following issues:
The solution offered can be attractive especially for CEE countries, for its low investment and/or operation costs.
- specification of the role of the system,
- conditions favourable to build such a system,
- conditions unfavourable to build such a system,
- the practical steps towards the efficient work of the system,
- looking ahead.
2. Integration of different types of CRIS, for multiple purposes
The system for describing INRA’s research activities: production and diffusion methods.
Hubert Pampouille, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France The demonstrated system for describing INRA’s activity is based on a model for representing information which links together the basic entities of the institute: research themes (activities), structures (laboratories), teams, people and results (publications). Technical choices have been influenced by the arrival of the Web. Each research unit is responsible for providing the necessary information to describe its activity. This information can be consulted by browsing HTML pages. Direct searching is also possible as well as downloading, producing directories and establishing indicators.
IWETO, an integrated database of different research data IWETO demonstrations were given. In IWETO, which started in 1984 as an inventory of research projects, was extended in the following years with other research elements such as provision of scientific services, expertise and know-how, international cooperation links established by Flemish researchers and available scientific equipment. IWETO is now presented as an integrated database consisting of 5 sub-databases, using the research teams involved as the central element of its structure.
Mark Smeyers, STIWETO, Belgium
Web technology used in dissemination of research information - case TUHTI The demonstrated Helsinki University Research Information System TUHTI contains information on more than 1,300 current research projects, 25,000 publications and 2,000 researchers. TUHTI-system covers broad subject areas: theology, law, medicine, humanities, arts, education, social sciences, natural sciences, agriculture, forestry and veterinary medicine. TUHTI uses modern web technology in dissemination of research information : links are provided between the different parts of TUHTI-system: the databases of research projects, publications and experts, e-mail, home pages. TUHTI is available free of charge via Internet (http://www.helsinki.fi/tuhti/tuhtien).
Ritva Hagelin, University of Helsinki, Finland
User interfaces are provided in the following languages: Finnish, Swedish and English.
TUHTI research project database follows CERIF- recommendations concerning set of fields.
CORDIS , the Community Research and Development Information Service Demonstrations are given of CORDIS, the Community Research and Development Information Service. Emphasis is put on how CORDIS can assist organizations in exploiting research results and transferring relevant technologies from company to company, country to country and industry to industry.
Demonstrations are given for different types users, illustrating how the CORDIS Service, which is accessible via the World Wide Web, can be successfully used and how it is an effective tool for multipliers and technology transfer organizations, as well as for individual companies across Europe.
Special attention was given to demonstrations of the "RAPIDUS service", which provides systematically e-mail alerting of users with all new information responding to their personal defined profiles of interest.
3. Good practice in bringing research information to industry
PROSOMA ESPRIT: Turning Innovation into Business
Peter Baur, European Commission The demonstrated PROSOMA Esprit service is targeted on companies who are looking for innovative solutions to their needs to identify relevant RTD results. Those who has participated in Esprit can show potential business partners what they have achieved, with a view to licensing agreements, collaboration on further developments or broadening their user base.
The participants in Esprit present their results through interactive multimedia presentations, continuously updated, which are accessible via World Wide Web and on CD-ROM. Each presentation can link to the web sites of the companies concerned, providing visitors with useful background information, and putting the result in the reach of other products and services.
Joining forces on innovation: the IWT-SME-Network IWT (Flemish Industrial Research & Innovation Council) demonstrates a tool, which has been developed to join the forces of ‘intermediary’ organisations active in one or another field related to innovation. The tool is built around the IWT-SME-Network of such intermediaries. Technically, the network is based on a WWW-extranet, centred on a database (address as an extranet, this is a username and password protected site). This extra-net is the subject of the demonstration during CRIS 98. All the intermediary organisations covered have close relationships with their ‘own’ industrial clients. In addition to this, their expertise is often complementary: joining their skills and unlocking the information they dispose of undoubtedly results in a synergy.
François Stassijns, IWT, Belgium
When SMEs are confronted with questions related to research - or innovation in it’s broadest sense - they will first try to get the information they need with ‘their’ intermediary organisation, rather than consult research information systems for themselves. The IWT-SMEN provides the opportunity to Flemish SMEs to address their questions related to innovation to a majority of Flemish intermediaries at once (by using their intermediary as entry point). As the IWT is hosting the Flemish Innovation Relay Centre (VIA), the IWT-SMEN is also ‘connected’ to Europe: VIA relays relevant information between the IWT-SMEN and the European IRCs.
The demosite is available for the CRIS 98 users:
User Name: "gast", Password: "testgebruiker".
4. CRIS for monitoring
Measuring Innovation: the first and second Community Innovation Surveys
Maurits L.H. Pino, EUROSTAT, European Commission A demonstration is given of the EUROSTAT CD-ROM on the Community Innovation Survey. This CD-ROM contains a large number of tables on innovation throughout the EC. The methodology used for the survey has been adapted after the experiences with the first CIS carried out in 1993, however the first survey succeeded in its first aim, i.e. to be an instructive pilot on innovation surveying. The second CIS exercise started in 1996.
Monitoring Technological and Bibliographical Information Sources via Textual Data Analysis The demonstration of the LEXICA program covered several examples on increasing effectiveness of research of high amount of data by aiding the rapid reading and interpretation of large texts via lexical approximation and textual data analysis.
Jean Moscarola, Le Sphinx Developpement, France
The LEXICA package combines, within a hypertext environment, the techniques of lexical analysis (generation of the lexicon, search for repeated segments, calculation of specificities, etc.) with those of syntax analysis (lemmatisation) and statistical analysis (factor analysis, classification, etc.).
By adding interactive navigation systems to the power of statistical analysis, one can save a great deal of time, without sacrificing the quality and detail of the information obtained.
By making clear the structure and form of the database, the computer can provide you with a summary from which you can determine focused and specific analyses.
Current research information systems in Portugal: presentation of a case study The demonstration is based upon a case-study on the development of a new Conceptual Model, used as a support for the implementation of a Portuguese information system on R&D Projects. It covers the application of the Model to a specific case of public funding - Programa Base de Investigação Científica e Tecnológica Nacional (1995) - co-ordinated by the Science and Technology Foundation, as a way of demonstrating the valorisation process brought by such an information system.
Alexandre Paulo Caldas, Foundation for Science and Technology, Portugal
5. Technology Transfer via Internet
TRN - Technology Response Network: Technology Transfer supported by the Internet
Jürgen Kapeller - TII asbl Luxembourg, Austria TII provided demonstrations of TRN, the Technology Response Network (http://www.tii.org)
TIIs TRN is an online-brokerage service that offers members a common service for circulating technology offers and requests from their client companies to a network of technology suppliers and brokers.
Further, demonstrations were given of various examples of the Technology Transfer process based on the Internet.
6. Specific tools
The LexiGraf project (multilingual lexicography)
Yiannis C Hatzopoulos, Scientific Engineering Services Ltd, Greece The LexiGraf 2.1 software is demonstrated. The base of this multilingual lexicography software has been developed under MS Windows to assist the creation of multilingual and bilingual terminology dictionaries in print. The system offers direct transition from terminology collection to the printing press; provides terminology management services, LAN use and excellent quality output to typesetters for subsequent printing-press reproduction.
ELFI - Electronical Research Funding Information System, Information gathering and personalised dissemination for heterogeneous data ELFI is a prototype of an information brokering system suited for the domain of research funding. ELFI itself consists of three parts, which where demonstrated during the Conference:
Elmar Schalück and Christoph Thomas, Ruhr-Universität Bochum / GMD - FIT, Germany
A set of agent-based internet search engines searching for funding-relevant information units which are available as WWW based pages (e.g. http://www.echo.lu), FTP resources (e.g. ftp://ftp.cordis.europa.eu), telnet databases, and with different types of data (HTML, WinWord, PDF,...)
A set of categorisation tools for the data documents were retrieved by the search engines: documents describing objects in the world of research funding, extract additional META-information like deadlines, eligibility criteria; the funding organisation, contact partners, and funding oriented events like info days are other objects.
Personalised information dissemination implemented as a combination of Push and Pull technologies to provide the user with a personal information subset.
Exploitation of results of European research through CEN/ISO standardisation CEN/STAR demonstrated, by means of a poster, that one of the most appropriate tools to make researchers more aware of European standardisation activities corresponds to the 'evaluation and negotiating' stage with the coordinators of research projects. In addition to the awareness of the researchers on current standardisation activities, this offers the chance to exploit in due time the results of the research by amending existing standards or starting new standardisation activities.
André Pirlet, CEN/STAR, Belgium
Panel members :
- Mario Bellardinelli, Chairman, European Commission
- Jostein Hauge, Secretary EuroCRIS-platform, Norway
- Maurits van der Graaf, NIWI, the Netherlands
- Jurgen Kapeller, TII, Austria
- Bernd Niessen, CORDIS sector, European Commission
- Peter Wolfmeyer, Innovation Relay Centre, ZENIT, Germany
Where do we go from where we are with CRIS? Jostein Hauge gives an overview of the several CRIS conferences (four Conferences since 1991).
In 1991 the goal was just to bring people together. Now we see a specialisation of the field. We need CRIS-conferences because we need collaboration between different actors of research information. Jostein Hauge proposes special interest groups coming together in between the conferences to communicate and to learn from each other.
Are we making progress? We have made progress. We have changed focus from how to make a CRIS to what is the use of our systems. What does the user need? We have not yet solved this question.
User-orientationThe challenge is how we can improve the consistency, the usefullness of CRIS and how we can better exploit this services.
What can we do to improve the dissemination of the results?
It is generally felt that research information providers have to be more user-oriented. They have to find out what can be done to improve to supply the available information; they have to know who our users are and what they need.
Also, for the potential users, we have to find out why they don’t use the research information systems.
Feedback of the CRIS-users is essential in user-orientation!
MultilingualityMario Bellardinelli states that we should learn from our users.
Jostein Hauge emphasizes the importance of multilinguality in Europe. Even in the environment of research information, we have to keep in mind that the E.U. covers 11 official languages.
Information-providers versus usersDo research information providers know their users?
During this conference we had some presentations from SME’s and industries. The next conference we should bring the producers and users together.
There are different user-groups. Researchers are very important, they are the suppliers, and on the other hand you have the SME’s. There is a dual approach. Are they equally important for the information providers?
Utility of CRIS One of the Conference partcipants states that it is much more important to learn for what purpose the research information systems are used for, than to know WHO uses the information. Marketing of research information systems should be based upon the purpose, not on the type of users.
The Cybercafé shows how intermediary we can be. The big issue is marketing. In the minutes of each session we see the word marketing: why not speak about advertising or publicity?
The panel agrees that "use" indeed might be more important to market a CRIS than the "user". Marketing effort should concentrate on the utility of research information systems.
Research Information Providers have to know for what purpose users are using their services.
The price of information There are different opinions on whether the information should be for free of charge, or if the information should be sold.
What is the added value to the user, that’s the question. If the added value is low you have to give it for free, when the added value is high you can ask a price for it. If one is not interested you should not make a database. There is a commitment between the user and the producer when you ask money for your database. You have to improve the added value to the user. You can asses the added value to the user by market-research.
Why should information be free?
The main argument in favour for free information is when the information is collected from public funds. But, you can make compromises. When you initiate a service you might give it for free. Later on you can ask a price. Otherwise you have no indicator that you are on the right way.
A participant pulls the attention of the effect on the producer, when information is sold. This does not only effect the user. Charging for information changes the set up between producers and users.
General publicConsider CRIS as a tool to increase public awareness. Can CRIS be useful for the general public?
CRIS can be used by the media, by journalists to talk to scientists. The general public will not use CRIS because of the scientific language.
However, this does not mean that scientists are not unable to communicate in a clear way, but they are not used to it.
Knowledge and power?The last subject is introduced as follows: Everybody is keeping his knowledge for himself. Does the reduction of quantity of free information effect us?
It is felt that not all information should be available for everyone. But research information has to be brought to the one who needs it.
Suggestion for topics for the next conference? The U.S. participant Hunt Williamson, suggests to bring in the next CRIS Conference representants from two entirely different usergroups together: industry and from the research community.
The chairman closes the Conference by announcing that the next conference will be in 2.000 probably in Finland.
CRIS - looking to the future The CRIS 98 conference is now over. As we approach the turn of the millennium we see that substantial progress has been achieved. Technological advances have produced nutcrackers that are sophisticated, easy on the eye, and simple to use. Cracking the nut is no longer a cumbersome process - it can even be done in a relaxed frame of mind, while savouring the delights of the cybercafé.
From this moment on, the common perception of research databases will gradually change. Metaphors will have to change too. The apple will represent CRIS better than the nut.
The nut is hard and secret: the apple is visible, and ready for use. The nut has to be cracked: an apple is simply picked, and eaten. Throughout history, mankind has attached particular symbolic values to the apple. Today it is not simply a fruit, but a symbol of beauty, fertility and knowledge. Free scientific knowledge, easily and widely available, is exactly what we need to build the future of our civilisation on the solid foundation of freedom, tolerance and peace.
May I invite you to turn your attention to the new CRIS image, where juicy and flavoursome apples are graciously offered. You are certainly familiar with the proverb: An apple a day...