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20 years of CORDIS on the World Wide Web

7 November 2014 marks the twentieth anniversary of web activity for CORDIS, the Community Research and Development Information Service.

CORDIS is the European Commission's primary public repository and portal to disseminate information on all EU-funded research projects and their results. In Internet terms, CORDIS is ‘old‘; one of the earliest EU services in this area, even pre-dating the World Wide Web and the first website at CERN. The creation of CORDIS was an initiative of what was then DG XIII following a Commission decision in 1988. Under the VALUE programme of the third research Framework Programme (FP3), the initial CORDIS databases were launched on ESPRIT Day in November 1990. Users could review R&D Programmes, R&D Projects and R&D Publications using the Common Command Language (CCL) by dialling up the ECHO (European Commission Host Organisation) server. This meant that only trained experts were able to use the service, but nevertheless some 500 user sessions were registered during the first month. The year 1994 was an important milestone for CORDIS. The launch of the fourth research Framework Programme (FP4), and within it the Innovation Programme, gave a further explicit mandate to CORDIS. Migration onto new open-system architecture (UNIX-like system, Fulcrum databases, web and ftp servers) facilitated the introduction of a number of new features: a user-friendly Windows interface (Watch-CORDIS) and a World Wide Web service that would become the dominant dissemination medium. The domain was registered on 7 November 1994 and CORDIS was the EU institutions' first permanent website, followed by the Europa web server in early 1995. By this time, CORDIS had grown considerably, offering some 130 000 records in nine databases, with over 11 000 registered users performing nearly 15 000 user sessions per month. Further strong growth followed the launch of the web facility, and by the end of 1996 CORDIS had 24 000 registered users accessing the web pages some 300 000 times per month. Following the launch of the fifth research Framework Programme (FP5) in 1999, CORDIS boasted some 2.5 million user visits per year. The volume and complexity of CORDIS expanded, with a range of new services like the Technology Marketplace, Innovation portal, European Research Area, ERAWATCH, Expert Management Module, results submission service, news in Polish, along with regular council presidency services and the family of printed CORDIS focus publications. This ambitious programme led to a proliferation of web content alongside the original and still-growing databases, and by 2010 there were over 400 000 database records, and around 350 000 unique users were accessing each month around 16 000 web pages and downloading around 500 000 documents. The development of the research Participant Portal has allowed the user experience to be rationalised, bringing together the participant-related activities (call publication and submission, project management and reporting, reference documents, experts, etc.) and leaving CORDIS to concentrate more effectively on its original purpose of providing comprehensive information on past and present EU-funded R&D projects and on the outcome and results achieved by these projects. Today CORDIS contains information on over 100 000 EU-funded projects, stretching from some of the earliest EU research under FP1 though to the planned publication of emerging Horizon 2020 projects. The core repository consists of project factsheets, which also link to open access publications available via OpenAIRE. The projects are complemented by report summaries submitted by project participants, which in turn form the basis of multilingual “results in brief” written by science editors to make the research results more accessible for exploitation. Further dissemination is supported by a news and events service, which also includes articles contributed by the research community, and the regular research*eu results magazine that is distributed to thousands of subscribers and available as an e-Book. Behind the scenes CORDIS is managed by a team at the Publications Office of the European Union in Luxembourg, as part of the Dissemination and Reuse directorate that also runs the EU's Open Data Portal, EUR-Lex, TED, EU Bookshop, Whoiswho and Eurovoc. CORDIS is monitored by the European Commission's Common Support Centre that ensures the coordinated implementation of the Horizon 2020 framework programme. The upcoming EC strategy on the dissemination and exploitation of research results will ensure a coherent approach across the research and innovation programmes and lead the evolution of the CORDIS services over the next years.


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