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VIPER: The Visual Project Explorer

Blogpost by Open Knowledge Maps

A massive 2.4 million research projects from around the world are listed in the OpenAIRE database. But getting an overview of project outputs can be tedious: you are often faced with lengthy reports and outdated project websites, especially when the project has already finished. This leads to a situation that you probably encountered before - it is almost impossible to get a complete and clear picture of what has been produced in some of the most important projects, and much less to understand the impact of this output.

VIPER, the Visual Project Explorer, addresses this problem. It enables funders, institutions and researchers to systematically explore a project’s output, and to understand its reception in different areas. VIPER was developed by Open Knowledge Maps with funding received in the scope of the OpenAIRE Tender Calls, and is built on top of OpenAIRE’s massive database of research projects, publications, and datasets. We exploit a unique property of OpenAIRE data: the link between projects, publications and datasets. This, in turn, enables us to realize an innovative open science application.

In VIPER, each project is represented as a knowledge map: a visualization showing a topical clustering of a project’s publications and datasets (see above). Users can interact with the visualization by zooming into a particular cluster and inspect the underlying outputs in detail. If a publication is open access, you can even view it within the same interface.

The knowledge map can be scaled according to different metrics, including citation data and altmetrics. This means that the sizes of clusters and outputs are adjusted to reflect the number of times they have been cited, read or tweeted. In that way, VIPER enables users to keep track of the reception of a project in a multifaceted and contextualized way that goes beyond simple aggregate numbers and rankings.

VIPER uses the OpenAIRE API to retrieve publications and datasets related to a project. We then enrich these outputs with metrics data from CrossRef and Altmetric and visualize them with our award-winning open source mapping software Head Start. The resulting maps are automatically updated by a processing component that queries the OpenAIRE API at regular intervals.

While VIPER can be used on its own, project representations can also be embedded on other websites, e.g. on project websites or within institutional dashboards using a simple JavaScript snippet. On a project website, the visual representation can be used as an automatically updated dissemination page. In user tests, we also found that VIPER would be a useful tool for organisations to showcase their output and identify resources relevant for research communication. For funders, VIPER could be a way to systematically compare funding input to output.

In the future, we plan to explore these use cases in more detail and improve VIPER. Our plans include integrating it further with OpenAIRE services and also with the Matchmaker recommendation developed in another OpenAIRE Tender project. Also - as some users pointed out - it would be useful to have an editing mode, where project representations can be modified, for example enabling enriching metadata or rearranging map items.

To try out VIPER, please head to Enjoy!
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