Happy Birthday CORDIS
CORDIS has come a long way since the launch of three separate databases back in 1990. Since then, it has used a vast array of resources to bring news, insight and information on European research and development to users and stakeholders around the world. Just as demands and needs have changed, so too has CORDIS. Now celebrating its 20th birthday, CORDIS is streamlining and launching a range of new and revamped products and services to meet the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead.
When it was first launched, CORDIS was three individual databases with information on EU-funded programmes, projects and publications. While the initial target audience was quite small, the uniqueness of the early CORDIS assured an immediate popularity. It was the appearance of the World Wide Web, though, which began CORDIS's growth and expansion. Moving the service from a mainframe environment to a dedicated web space attracted even more visitors.
As European Union funding for innovation, research and development has grown, so has the mission of CORDIS. Small changes, such as the migration of CORDIS from its old ".lu" domain name to "europa.eu" used by other EU bodies, have been reflective of larger shifts in EU policies and programmes.
With this in mind, CORDIS News asked Philippe Lebaube, Head of the CORDIS Unit at the Publications Office of the European Union, how CORDIS perceives the challenges posed by social media, Web 2.0 and an evolving user base.
'[A few years ago] we saw that according to our user surveys, existing users were satisfied,' explains Mr Lebaube. 'Retaining new / young users though was a challenge. Appealing to them is part of the key for CORDIS into the future.' With that in mind, CORDIS has streamlined and simplified services while maintaining the level of content and functionality. The CORDIS team has also worked to raise the visibility of content outside the service. For example, CORDIS is well ranked by Google, Bing and other search engines. News and other CORDIS-based data are often extensively used elsewhere on the internet.
A development that will soon be rolled out - a completely new search engine - promises to raise the visibility of accessibility of content within CORDIS too.
'The new search engine will allow for searching and identifying related content - whether news, projects or other information,' continues Mr Lebaube. Able to search across CORDIS databases, users will be provided with a variety of options, including saved searches, custom RSS and refining existing results. 'It will also offer map search and display. This will help unlock information visually and make information available in a way which will open new possibilities.'
In fact, a goal with this and other planned upgrades on CORDIS is to put in place mechanisms which will show the full life-cycle of projects, from the beginning through to results, final reports and success stories. 'By clicking on a news story,' illustrates Mr Lebaube, 'users will be able to enter at a point anywhere in the entire project continuum and follow the aspects which interest them the most in a way which the users can control.'
Personalisation and interaction are two aspects which the Head of Unit foresees as becoming hallmarks of CORDIS in the future.
'The expansion of interaction on internet websites of all kinds reflects what stakeholders expect and demand,' says Mr Lebaube. 'For example, how users look for information and the terms they use may be completely different from what is used on CORDIS. Use of social media will allow for identifying and connecting of content in ways which are user-centred.'
Other developments which are on the drawing board include user-activated features, multimedia and an identification system to track CORDIS content which is reused / cited elsewhere on the internet. A new partners service is in the works too.
'The new partners service will allow to search for partners using professional social networking facilities as you can find them in a service like LinkedIn. It will also offer the possibility to open a blog, communicate with friends, form a group, wikis and much more,' adds the Head of Unit. 'We will be using some open-source solutions as well. Once implemented, they may also be expanded to other parts of CORDIS. If we want to be attractive and useful/service-driven, we need to offer these services to stakeholders and the research community.'
CORDIS has come a long way since the first data were put online less than a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall. As CORDIS enters the second decade of the 21st century, users come not only from Western Europe, but also the new Member States and beyond.
'The CORDIS user base and stakeholders are reflective of Europe and its aims in innovation, science and research and development,' concludes Mr Lebaube. 'Anticipating and meeting their needs is truly at the heart of what the service does and where it's going.'
Data Source Provider: CORDIS News
Document Reference: Based on interview
Subject Index: Scientific Research; Coordination, Cooperation; Life Sciences; Policies; Earth Sciences; Information and communication technology applications ; Information, Media