What is new with MERIL?
The MERIL team has been quite active in the last two months, travelling around Europe to present the project and to foster further discussions with the RI community and stakeholders.
Interoperability workshop in Athens
On 25 and 26 June 2018 we organised a workshop hosted by EKT in Athens (Greece) to discuss interoperability challenges and opportunities with the wider community, looking into the current initiatives in RI data models and database management but also exploring sustainability and financing for the future.
The discussions were very fruitful and you can find below key points and takeaways from our discussions:
- A one-size fits all solution is a major challenge solution lies in developing a tailored plan for interoperability with each interoperability partner.
- MERIL will aim to issue persistent identifiers for RIs
This will be of service to the community as it will provide a simple, standardised way for RIs to be credited in research papers, for example. Importantly, this supports the case for MERIL's long term role and will help other organisations link back to the database (i.e. active link to the MERIL portal profile page).
- More MERIL filters and search options available
Expanding the filtering and search functionality of the MERIL portal would help to allow for a more flexible data slicing.
- Improving structuring of MERIL data
Using schema.org vocabularies and mark-up was suggested as an improvement to the database’s data structuring.
- Fostering collaboration
Several interoperability partnerships were identified during the event, e.g. Re3data, EurOcean and Wayforlight, with which further conversations are currently ongoing. It would be useful for MERIL to also push data to databases that are already used by the research community.
- MERIL should consider providing its own unique services to users
Several ideas to this end were discussed - such as presenting user stories and case studies to highlight the added value of these services in order to support the case for MERIL being an irreplaceable tool- but more work to define the opportunities is needed.
The new interoperability strategy will be published in the fall. Further details will follow.
EuroScience Open Forum in Toulouse
At the beginning of July we participated in the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) in Toulouse, France, which is the largest interdisciplinary science meeting in Europe, with an attendance of over 4,000 delegates from 80 countries.
The conference offered us a unique opportunity to present the MERIL project at our dedicated booth in the exhibition area. During the week, we engaged in fruitful discussions with researchers, RI managers and policy makers, discussed our efforts toward interoperability and obtained very valuable feedback on the portal.
Some of the highlights of our week were the presentation of our new brochure , in which we describe the project, how to use the portal and how to be indexed in it as an RI. To find all the information in a nutshell, take a look at the new MERIL teaser video that was also presented at ESOF. For a more in-depth vision, you can also watch the full version.
Research Infrastructure Training Programme
RItrain (the Research Infrastructure Training Programme - http://ritrain.eu/), a Horizon 2020
project aiming to improve and professionalize the training of managerial and leadership staff in research infrastructures, is
currently surveying the training needs of Managers of Research Infrastructures to be used in the RItrain staff/knowledge exchange
programme. Two surveys have been set up, one on "Bottom-up" training needs, and one on proposals for being a host organisation.
To learn more and complete the surveys, please follow the links below:
Big Science Business Forum BSBF2018, Copenhagen, Denmark
On 26-28 February 2018, the first Big Science Business Forum BSBF2018 will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The forum will be the first "one-stop-shop" for European businesses and other stakeholders to learn about future investments and procurements from Europe's Big Science organisations. In order to strengthen the concept of Big Science as a market place, the organisers of BSBF2018 are calling for expressions of interest to become a BSBF2018 Affiliated Big Science Organisation. This is a unique opportunity for European and large national Big Science organisations that procure European-wide or internationally to be a part of Europe's Big Science market. Please go to the following link to express your interest before 10/11/2017: https://bsbf2018.org/call-expressions-interest-affiliated-big-science-organisations-bsbf2018/
Europe-wide database of scientific research infrastructures revived under MERIL-2
A European Commission-funded project to revive and improve the MERIL (Mapping of the European Research Infrastructure Landscape) database and portal is underway, with a new portal having been previewed on June 20 at an event in Rome, Italy.
The MERIL-2 project builds on the previous phases of MERIL that were initiated in 2010, with a view to building an up-to-date database of European research infrastructures across all scientific domains. With renewed funding from the European Commission under Horizon 2020 and an expanded team, the new three-year MERIL-2 project will provide the means for making informed assessments and decisions about the research infrastructure landscape in Europe, and to encourage accessibility, new partnerships and collaborations within the scientific community.
The MERIL-2 project will further expand the coverage of research infrastructures included in the database, and improve the depth and accuracy of the information held on them. The usability of the portal is also being developed through improved functionality and standardised data sets, which it is hoped will enable MERIL to become a hub for European research infrastructure information, resources and networking.
The MERIL database will enable individual research infrastructures to raise their profile and foster a greater sense of openness and partnership across Europe, while allowing scientists to access resources, services and facilities they may previously have been unaware of. The portal will also allow policy-makers to analyse and optimise the national and European research infrastructure funding landscapes by, for example, pinpointing gaps and identifying synergies at the European level. It will also encourage research infrastructures themselves to exchange best practice with a view to optimising the operation and exploitation of research infrastructures.
Ensuring that the data MERIL holds is of high quality and comparable is the utmost priority for the MERIL-2 project. In the new portal, information will be presented in a clearer and more usable way, and be quantitative where possible, enabling easier comparison and analysis. The new structure will also make it considerably easier for research infrastructures to submit and update their own data.
Ana Helman, MERIL Coordinator at the European Science Foundation, commented, â€œThe original MERIL project was widely recognised
as a valuable initiative, however in practice it faced a number of significant challenges and limitations. Now with renewed
resources, an expanded team and having learnt from previous efforts, we believe MERIL-2 will realise the potential that such an
initiative has to connect and inform the policy and research communities. The ambition for MERIL-2 is to be much more than a simple
repository of information. It is to provide a destination website with dynamic content about research infrastructures, which will
enable better use of existing resources and planning of future resources than is currently possible. We hope it will not only
deliver significant value in its own right, but it will also lay the groundwork for similar initiatives to become interoperable in
â€œThe project is progressing well towards this ambition, and the demonstration of the new portal is a real milestone. However, in order to ensure data is kept up to date and to deliver sustained impact, the portal needs the European research infrastructure community to get behind it and help us to ensure it is as comprehensive as possible now and in the future.
Johannes Janssen of DFG and Chair of the MERIL Advisory Committee, said, â€œBy mapping the landscape of research infrastructures that are of more than national relevance across all disciplines, the MERIL database enables a greater understanding of how research infrastructures can best support scientific users at the European level. The project is also helping to harmonise views on how to best utilise research infrastructures across Europe, particularly in bringing together and collaborating with the member state representatives who act as National Data Intermediaries. In taking a collaborative approach to developing MERIL, we are fostering a more unified approach for the future.
Jean-Claude Worms, Chief Executive of the European Science Foundation, added, â€œThe MERIL portal will help to connect the scientific community by giving researcher stakeholders access to information on research infrastructures in Europe, their facilities, and areas of research. This will help researchers to pursue new opportunities, partner and collaborate with colleagues across Europe, and will be particularly useful for interdisciplinary teams. That the MERIL database is comprehensive in its coverage is of the utmost importance if the scientific and research infrastructure communities in Europe are to reap maximum value from the tools it provides. This is something that the MERIL team is prioritising and is an ongoing collaborative effort.
The second generation MERIL portal can be accessed at: http://portal.meril.eu. Considerable improvement works are still underway while the portal remains accessible to all, as the MERIL team invites feedback from the research infrastructure community.
MERIL-2 Launch Event
The MERIL-2 project is pleased to announce its launch event on the 20th of June, 2017, in Rome (IT). The event will be an opportunity to present the portal to a community of stakeholders, to discover its functions, and to discuss plans for ongoing development.
The following day (21 June), a working session with National Data Intermediaries will be held, to find solutions for increasing RI Coverage, across all countries and scientific areas. This part of the event is aimed at MERIL National Data Intermediaries, but is open to other interested stakeholders depending on availability of spaces.
Please find a complete agenda of the event and surrounding meetings here.
A practical information guide will be circulated to meeting participants.
Please do not hesitate to contact us at meril(at)esf.org for any further information. We hope to see you in Rome.
The MERIL-2 Portal beta version goes live
As the first milestone in the MERIL-2 project to upgrade the MERIL portal and improve MERIL data, a new MERIL portal is now available for use. It is the first step towards the final MERIL portal with full functionality. It allows for data consultation by members of the public, and for data entry or cleaning by registered users. New versions of the portal will be rolled out progressively, to add functionalities, ergonomic improvements, and graphic changes to both the front and back ends of the portal while the data cleaning is in progress.
MERIL Event at ICRI South Africa 2016
The MERIL-2 project held a fringe event at ICRI 2016 entitled Collecting Research Infrastructure Data in a Global Context. Speakers and panellists included Frederic Sgard (OECD), Philippe Froissard (European Commission), David Moorman (Canada Foundation for Innovation), Monique Bossi (APRE), and David Bohmert (ESFRI), and Julija Baginskaite, Data Scientist for the MERIL project hosted. The discussions were productive and lively, and have inspired the MERIL project to shift its focus toward the broad scientific community. We warmly thank everyone who participated.
MERIL-2 Kicks Off
The first of March, 2016, marked the official beginning of the MERIL-2 project, a three year effort to update and improve the MERIL web portal and database. The existing database will be expanded and reorganized to include standardized information of interest to researchers and policy makers. To make the most of its data, the portal itself will be completely redesigned and will see the addition of data-visualisation capabilities. The MERIL-2 project consortium includes the European Science Foundation (Coordinator), the Agency for the Promotion of European Research, and the National Documentation Centre. The project is supported by the European Commission under Horizon2020, project number 654296.