by Sarah Matters
CORDIS (European Community Research and Development Service) is a database service launched by the European Commission in December 1990, which provides information about its research and technological development (RTD) activities. It is thus possible to gather information on all aspects of this activity from a single database service. Whereas in the past information was available about the various research programmes, it was scattered throughout many different databases and limited in content. CORDIS brought these existing databases together into a comprehensive system.
The CORDIS database originates from the second framework programme within which the VALUE (Valorisation and Utilisation in Europe) programme was launched. The overall objective of this programme was to improve the dissemination and utilisation of research results. As part of this programme the EC began working on CORDIS with the following objective: "To disseminate public information on and about all Community RTD activities, for the purpose of enhancing awareness of these activities, assist interactions and cooperation among individual programmes and their participants, and help promote co-ordination with similar RTD activities in member states."
There are nine separate databases making up the service. The first three became available at the launch in December 1990: RTD-PROGRAMMES, RTD-PROJECTS and RTD-PUBLICATIONS.
The Programmes database describes entire research programmes (BRITE, ESPRIT, RACE, TEDIS etc) as well as work of the Joint Research Centre at Ispra. The coverage period is from 1986 onwards. The records include information on and can be searched by, the programme name or acronym, by subject codes, by Commission Directorate-General, etc.
The Projects database contains descriptions of specific research projects within EC research programmes. This information includes project title, acronym, objectives, general description, duration, contractors involved, contact people, partners etc.
The Publications database has been substantially available under the name EABS for a number of years. It is concerned with providing information about the publications which arise out of RTD projects. The records include the basic bibliographic details, an abstract, programmes and projects involved, ordering details, etc.
In April 1991 the second group of three databases was launched RTD-RESULTS, RTD-ACRONYMS, RTD-COMDOCS.
The Results database contains information on the results of research projects in the fields of science, technology and medicine. There are three types of record: standard records are for results arising from EC and other European research activity; VALUE records are for results arising from the EC's VALUE programme; and COST (Cooperation in Science and Technology) records results from the COST programme. Information contained includes an abstract, commercial applications, contact details, sources of funding support, contributing organisations, etc.
The Acronyms database, as the name suggests, provides information on the various acronyms and abbreviations, such as those mentioned above, used in the area of EC RTD. This database can be used in a variety of ways. The most common search would be to discover more information about a known acronym. Alternatively the user may browse through an alphabetical list, through a subject category listing, or through a listing organised by EC department (Directorates-General).
Comdocs are documents which are sent from the Commission of the EC to the Council of Ministers. They are mainly used to communicate proposals for legislation but are also used to convey more general information to the Council, such as proposals for new RTD programmes or reports of activities in various areas. CORDIS contains records describing all RTD related Comdocs. Also included are relevant SEC documents which are similar to Comdocs but are for internal use only and not available to the public. The records provide the full title of the documents, dates, document numbers, subject codes, etc.
The third group of databases are RTD-NEWS, RTD-PARTNERS and RTD-CONTACTS.
News was launched in December 1991 and carries general news items concerning RTD activities and specific announcements and calls for proposals. This obviates the need to use other sources - either electronic or printed - to monitor opportunities. It also makes the task of providing up-to-date information services much easier than it was previously. It is also possible for individual researchers to acquire the information directly themselves.
The Partners database was launched in January 1992. As potentially interested researchers are required to work in conjunction with a partner or partners in other member states or industrial sectors, it is vitally important to be able to discover suitable candidates for partnership. This database is intended specifically for that purpose. Researchers are able to place their requirements on the database for potential partners to respond to.
The long awaited ninth database Contacts was launched in May 1994. This provides contacts throughout Europe for the provision of information on EC RTD. Contact details are provided on individuals from the Commission and other European institutions responsible for developing EC policies and the day-to-day management of research programmes. The names of national representatives on programme steering committees as well as the nominated contacts for EC RTD programmes at national level will also be included. Other contact points covered will include: Commission RTD help desks; programme information points; VALUE Relay Centres; CORDIS Correspondents; IMPACT National awareness partners; EURO INFO Centres; members of SPRINT networks and contacts for EUREKA, COST and the European Space Agency.
The new database is designed to help users locate contacts in their own area of expertise as well as those who can provide help with administrative matters. It provides all the necessary contact information and will be a valuable aid for participating in EC RTD projects.
CORDIS is available through ECHO the European Community Host Organisation. ECHO is a very unusual database host in that most of its databases are free of charge to the user. One of its main functions in fact is to provide a "testing ground" for new databases to ascertain their marketability. The CORDIS service is currently free of charge to all users although this policy is under review. Users have to pay the telecommunications costs involved in each search but there are currently no charges made for the actual use of the CORDIS databases.
The RTD-Partners entry form is now available electronically and can be obtained by sending an e-mail request to CORDIS. The form can be completed electronically and then returned to CORDIS by e-mail for rapid inclusion in the RTD-Partners database. There has been a great deal of interest in using the RTD-Partners database coinciding with the start of FP IV. Approximately 50 new entries have been received each week in the last few months. This means there are now almost 13,000 requests for partnership on the database. By completing the form, your organisation's details, potential programme and research interests will be available to more than 8,000 registered CORDIS users who currently access the database for 200 hours a month.
The process is as follows:
1. send an e-mail message to cordis-cplcd.co.uk, there is no need to include any text in the message;
2. download the form and the "readme" file to a word processing file. Full instructions are given in the "readme" file;
3. return the completed form to the e-mail address provided, your data will then be processed and added to the RTD- Partners database. As the new electronic form is currently on trial, CORDIS would welcome any comments or suggestions on ways in which it could be improved.
For further information on RTD-partners or for entry forms please contact: CORDIS Information Collection Unit, Ms Ailie Menzies, Bte 1, 26 rue de la Loi, B-1040 Brussels. Tel: 322 280 1744, Fax: 322 280 1749.
In order to obtain access to the CORDIS database please contact: CORDIS Customer Services, BP 2373, L-1023 Luxembourg. Tel: 352 3498 1240, Fax: 352 3498 1248. The RTD Help Desk is available for further information on Community research and research-related programmes and can be contacted at: DG XIII/D/2, Batiment Jean Monnet, rue Alcide de Gasperi, L-2920 Luxembourg. Tel: 352 4301 33161, Fax: 352 4301 32084, E-mail: cordis-helpdeskdcfilx.das.net.