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REIsearch – A unique bridge between citizens, researchers, and policy makers

The REIsearch platform has been created as a bridge to connect citizens, researchers and policy makers on topics linked to the scientific research and to societal challenges that Europe will face in the years to come.
REIsearch was launched in 2016, with the support of the European Parliament and European Commission, with the objective of showing how a technological tool, coupled to a broad network of leading media, research institutions, researchers, civil society organisations, and citizens, can help policy makers to make better use of all knowledge and experience – wherever it may come from – to make better decisions, based on evidence and experience, for the benefit of society as a whole.

REIsearch is promoted by Atomium – European Institute for Science, Media and Democracy, launched in 2009 at the European Parliament by the former President of France Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and by Michelangelo Baracchi Bonvicini, currently Honorary President and President of Atomium-EISMD.

The platform, thanks to an integrated aggregation system, provides access to data and scientific contents to researchers and citizens interested in scientific topics and their societal impact, facilitating access to articles, journals, legislative and policy documents and scientific data stored in different databases. Currently, REIsearch grants access to over 115 million publications across 3 databases (Mendeley, OpenAire and ScienceDirect) as well as to all the legal and policy documents contained in the EUR-Lex database.

This is fundamental since as highlighted by a recent study conducted by Innocomm Research Center for Science & Innovation Communication, researchers do not have time to search for new publications and information not already available through their normal network (journals, national/disciplinary databases, peers, conferences). Thus, a single access point with an advanced search system such as REIsearch can significantly increase the chances of finding relevant information across a growing ecosystem of scientific databases, including from an inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral perspective. The platform is able to track user behaviours in terms of keyword searches and articles downloaded. Since users are categorised into citizens, researchers and policy-makers, and researchers are asked to specify their competences, this data can provide interesting information in terms of inclination towards inter-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approaches as the user community grow. The platform also allows people to exchange both publicly (via the forum) and privately (according to the social network paradigm).

After the successful debut in 2016 on the topic of chronic diseases, which reached around 60.000 EU citizens out of which nearly 16.000 took part to the related survey, in 2017 REIsearch’s work is focusing on how Europeans would like to see the Internet evolve in the next ten years.

On the 18th of April, the second REIsearch’s citizen engagement and media campaign was launched, with dedicated articles published both on the paper and online editions of Atomium media partners, including Der Standard, El País, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, La Libre Belgique, Gazeta Wyborcza, Luxemburger Wort, Público and Sole24ore. Elsevier and the European Commission’s DG Connect were facilitating the engagement of researchers. The initiative was also featured on The Guardian and Politico.

Based on readership, the potential public reached by the campaign was equal to over 10 million Europeans.

For three weeks, a different subtopic was introduced each week, according to the following schedule:

– 18th – 24th of April 2017: New technologies for disrupting the economy: business, employment and skills

- 25th of April – 1st of May 2017 – New technologies disrupting the public sphere: information, democracy and social media

- 2nd – 8th of May 2017 – New technologies blurring online and offline worlds and disrupting the personal sphere

The online articles contained a link to a questionnaire centred on the topic of the week, which were accessible for the entire week.

Some of the most important international and European organisations operating in the digital sector (Tallinn University of Technology, Oxford University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, University of Twente, University of Milan, University of Barcelona, Warsaw University, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, WeMake, OpenWear, SURFnet, IETF, IAB and Digital Catapult), together with relevant Directorates-General of the European Commission, have cooperated to write the back-ground materials and questions polled on-line.

The answers collected were analysed in a dedicated report, and discussed with key representatives of the academic, business and policy world during the Next Generation Internet Summit, which has been held at the European Parliament on the 6th and 7th of June 2017, with the objective of providing policy makers across Europe with useful and significant insight, expertise, and data on key issues to ensure that the internet of the future reflects the European values of fairness, respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law.

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