ICT-KM of the CGIAR

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CGIAR Ongoing Research: Ready to Travel

CGIAR Ongoing Research is now online with a brand new design and new pathways to help you find, promote and reuse project information across the CGIAR.

Thanks to the many contributors, anyone interested in the work of the CGIAR can find out who is doing what, where and with whom across the CGIAR at a fraction of the time and effort usually required to search through a multitude of information systems, intranets and websites.

While Africa has been the initial focus of Ongoing Research, it continues to expand its geographical reach to cover other areas with a CGIAR research presence.

Presently, Ongoing Research features over 400 projects in 13 research areas in 120 countries and growing.

Contributing information to the Map is a voluntary endeavor involving scientists and colleagues across the CGIAR who are keen to increase the visibility of their projects, provide thematic views of their work, and increase the potential for collaboration.

Check out the Frequently Asked Questions for  how you can use CGIAR Ongoing Research for your research needs.

Ready to travel: How to reuse CGIAR Ongoing Research project information

Over the last few months, the Ongoing Research team at the ICT-KM Program has been working with the people at Collective Action in Eastern and Southern Africa to take Ongoing Research out of the evaluation stage. User feedback and data management issues convinced us that migrating to a content management system was the solution if we wanted Ongoing Research to be sustainable and able to provide better ways of finding and viewing project information. A much more solid and usable system behind the scenes enabled us to:

  1. improve the usability of the project forms for contributors, which will result in better quality information;
  2. provide more ways to use the project information: counts, lists, feeds, embeds and downloads are the tools for making Ongoing Research projects travel outside the system to be reused for many more purposes.

And how can you reuse Ongoing Research project information? Here are your options:

Customize your map from the home page

Customise a map and copy the HTML code to embed
Customise a map and copy the HTML code to embed
  1. Use the filters to find projects by research area, lead Center, timeline;
  2. zoom in or out as you like;
  3. click on  ‘Embed this Map’: this box will give you more options for customising the size of the map to be embedded, preview it and finally copy the code that you need to paste into your website or application.

Export projects via RSS, GeoRSS or downloads

Export and download options on CGIAR Ongoing Research Projects lists

After you apply your criteria to the map or click on a keyword on the factsheets, you will view a list of projects based on your selection. Each one of these views now provide three data outputs:

  • RSS feeds both for individual subscription and import and aggregation in intranets, systems and websites;
  • GeoRSS feeds: project headings are grouped by country — suitable for building custom maps or mashups;
  • Download project information in a spreadsheet for further analysis and review.

So what does this mean in practice?

If you work on a project or a Center website, you now don’t have to create new content for, say, a Project Portfolio section: the map of project fact sheets available from CGIAR Ongoing Research can be embedded in your Project Portfolio page and can be viewed as an interactive map on your website.

If your site features a thematic section on climate change, the RSS feed generated by combining filters for the climate change thematic area and your Center can feed into a side box under the heading: Our Climate Change Projects.

Is this feature available only to Centers? Absolutely not. If you work with a partner or a donor on a collective thematic database, project factsheets can be exported and reused elsewhere while preserving the source, the attribution and the data as entered by CGIAR staff.

All of this may sound unfamiliar to those of you who do not develop websites for a living, but feeds and embeds are tried and tested methods of sharing and making information travel. Plus, they provide opportunities to save on data entry: Ongoing Research plays the role of a common repository of project information that can be viewed, sliced and diced, even outside Ongoing Research itself.

Our travel plans

Over the next months, we will focus primarily on making the backend more solid, smoothing out the public site, and immediately thereafter we will begin providing an archival for completed projects. As we have expanded the geographical focus from Africa to the whole world, we hope to get more contributors on board who are willing to publish project information via Ongoing Research. Monitoring and measuring the usage of project information are among the behind-the-scenes tasks that we will undertake systematically.

On one hand, quality control, coverage and usefulness are a big priority; but on the other, making Ongoing Research sustainable over time relies on the possibility of using existing sources of project information. A while ago, I explained in this post that

making a project information system sustainable cannot ignore the context of use: anchoring such a system in core business processes and reuse of information are key to sustainability, but the project definition should include a core of information for public use right from the start.

CGIAR Ongoing Research was not born to manage projects, but the roots of its content are in project management systems. The main challenge over the coming months will be to shape the project roots in ways that will make them travel a long way.

Do you want to get on board?

If you are a CGIAR scientist or program manager and want to

  • increase the visibility of your projects,
  • collaborate and network with colleagues on new project development,
  • share research information online with CGIAR colleagues and partners,
  • demonstrate collective action to current and potential donors

become a contributor! You will be given access to the Ongoing Research database, where you can enter and update your project information over time and invite colleagues to contribute too.

To get started, review the Frequently Asked Questions and send a message to Evelyn Katingi, Collective Action in Eastern and Southern Africa, at e.katingi[at]cgiar.org

For any technical question: CGMap-support[at]cgiar.org

We welcome your feedback, comments, questions, so please leave a comment on this post.