The European Commission funded MERIL-2 project (Mapping of the European Research Infrastructure Landscape), has introduced a new data visualisation tool that allows users to discover all of the European research infrastructures (RI) in the MERIL database interactively. With the new tool, users can see and explore data on the European research landscape, such as RI size and location, user profiles, and research capabilities of over 1,000 research facilities across the continent.
The tool provides a visual ‘big picture’ of the research infrastructure landscape in Europe, and gives the user the freedom to choose how to filter the dataset and visualise the results in the different interactive dashboards. Key features include a European map with location points that map all research infrastructures included in MERIL, colour and size coded according to type of RI (mobile, virtual or single-site). Hovering over the points reveals information about the RI, including its scientific domain and coordinating country.
The data visualisation tool is designed to aid the discovery of information on research infrastructures, with the aim of encouraging new partnerships and collaborations within the scientific community. It will also enable policy-makers to see the distribution of facilities across a country or the continent, and thereby identify where there may be capability hotspots or gaps in infrastructure accessibility.
The MERIL database has grown significantly under the MERIL-2 programme. In recognition of the value of MERIL’s information, the database eligibility criteria has now been expanded to accept research infrastructures that are only open to national users. Previously, MERIL's eligibility checklist stipulated that only research infrastructures of “more than national relevance” should be listed.
“Scientists sometimes need access to research infrastructures that may be unfamiliar to them. Our vision for MERIL is to support the scientific community by presenting a complete picture of the landscape of European RIs” said Jean-Claude Worms, Chief Executive of the European Science Foundation. “The new visualisation tool is an important milestone for the project, and it aims at making the MERIL data easier to navigate, by presenting the information in a clear and accessible way. We hope that researchers who use our tool will discover new resources and opportunities for collaboration.”