Mapping international research infrastructures

Methodology of landscape analysis

The main part of the RISCAPE work is to actually determine the level and the type of complementarities between the international and European RIs whilst also identifying major gaps and opportunities. The RISCAPE consortium is built around the expertise existing in the ESFRI cluster projects and specialist disciplinary partners, and a large part of the complementarity information (at least in the most basic level) already exists in the consortium and in the associated cluster projects. However, this information must be presented  in a consistent way and enriched with additional information from the RISCAPE research activities. Collating and presenting such “silent” knowledge is a major part of the RISCAPE methodology.

The RISCAPE landscape analysis does not start from scratch. The most important document for the project is the ESFRI 2016 RI landscape document[1], together with the associated roadmap and ESFRI projects and landmarks documents[2]. Also important are already existing work in the international and European landscape, such as OECD reports on large[3], or distributed[4] research infrastructures, G7 GSO reports[5], H2020 RICH project reports on RIs[6], their contact information[7], FP7 EuroRIs-Net+ report on global Research Infrastructures[8], MERIL H2020 project databases[9], and reports (both existing and soon to be prepared) from ESFRI cluster projects and international RI collaboration projects. Similarly, official Commission documents can be useful to identify key partnerships already existing and in planning[10]. All these, and many other existing document provide the background level of knowledge which will be used as the basis of the RISCAPE analysis.

Different disciplines also have very different levels of documented information on the existing international RI landscape. For example, physics communities have long been international; the existence and many of the complementarities with the international RIs in this field are well documented and relatively easy to collect. For this reason, the RISCAPE Physics and Engineering WP will go much more detail and depth in their part of the landscape analysis, including development of recommendations for maintaining the current EU position in the field. In comparison, the environmental field is very wide, heterogonous, and in some cases not so well documented at the moment. Thus the environmental RI landscape analysis uses the full path of the RISCAPE landscape analysis concept, and concentrates on creating the basis level of the international environmental RI information on existence of RIs and complementarity.

The RISCAPE landscape analysis will thus use a series of tools, depending on the need of the disciplinary WPs for their analysis. The main tools in the RISCAPE toolset are:

  • Literature (and web) analysis/searches. Typical targets are websites of the RIs, annual reports, other Framework and H2020 project deliverables, strategy documents, etc. These activities are non-invasive, usually cost-effective, but can only produce information limited from what is explicitly made publically available. This kind of analysis can also be supplemented with e.g. bibliographical analyses (e.g. to determine the use of RI in the field of study). These methods require storing a copy of the original documents in the RISCAPE data management platform (DP) for consistency and reproducibility, indication on why these documents were chosen;
  • Questionnaires. This method provides tools to collect a similar set of information from potentially arge set of RI representatives. This is a moderately invasive method, and successful use of questionnaires requires good planning of the questions to avoid inconsistent or hard to interpret answers, and most importantly, questionnaires require careful choice of targets as often people do not want to answer questionnaires unless they are well motivated. Questionnaire expertise for the RISCAPE will be provided by the European Social Survey team. The raw results of the questionnaires will be stored securely in the RISCAPE DP;
  • Workshops. This method is suitable for bringing together a collection of RI representatives, and has the advantage of personal interaction, responses to direct questions and more general feedback. Special care must be taken to avoid influencing participants, maintaining balanced participation and reporting results. Workshops in RISCAPE are one of the tools to get EU RI information in the project and on organizing the Stakeholder interaction. Costly to organize internationally (especially if travel and subsidence is covered), they will be used only if they are seen as particularly suitable tool. Recordings of the workshops and their notes (accepted by participants) will be stored in the RISCAPE DP;
  • Interviews. The most intensive and direct method to gain information. Requires direct communication methods (physical or virtual) with the recipient, time consuming and potentially (if physical) expensive. However, can allow a very detailed response and provide far better information than many of the other methods. Requires saving a recording of the interview in the RISCAPE DP.

All or some of these tools can be used in combination, and in particular triangulating questionnaire data with to personal contact (either workshop or depth interviews) can be a very effective tool for information gathering. It is important to note that RISCAPE WP2 will develop standard practice documents for these methods to maintain consistency in methods used in the project. These standard methods also include how to ensure ethical evaluations of the methods when required (mostly for collecting personal information in the form of names, occupations and positions in the institutes) and how to effectively store the raw results to RISCAPE DMP and what kind of conclusions should be driven from the raw results. These guidelines will ensure on their side that the RISCAPE results will be comparable between the WPs and the results can be peer reviewed properly in WP1.

As mentioned above, the level of information gathered from the RIs depends on the discipline. Most important landscape analysis information is collected from all of the disciplines, consisting on

  • European RI to be analyzed
  • Respective international RIs
    • Nation (or region)
    • Complementarities to European RI (types, short description of the level of complementarity)
    • Short description of the international RI, including contact information
  • Meta information (how and when the information was collected, who did the analysis, where the raw data exists)

In addition to this, in some fields much more detailed analysis is done if resources are available and the analysis shows an important need for additional details. Also the Stakeholder panel can require this for some RIs. This will include information such as sustainability of the non-European RI, the organizational structure, level of existing (and potential) interaction between the European and international RIs, and recommendations and actions for the European RIs to maintain or gain international significance and to the overall global RI sector on developing true global research environments.

[1] ESFRI, Part 3: Landscape analysis, in Strategy Report On Research Infrastructures, Roadmap 2016,, ISBN 9780957440241, 2016

[2] ibid, Part 1: ESFRI roadmap 2016 and Part 2: ESFRI Projects and ESFRI Landmarks.

[3] OECD GSF,  Report on Roadmappingof Large Research Infrastructures, 2008

[4] OECD GSF, International Distributed Research Infrastructures: Issues and Options, 2015

[5] Cost Control and Management Issues of Global Research Infrastructures, European Expert Group Report, October 2010,





[10] EC, Report on the implementation of the strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation, SWD(2014) 276 final.