What is a landscape analysis?

Landscape analysis is a type of organisational analysis. In business, a landscape analysis is a part of a business plan. The aim is then, for example, to find potential collaborators, do a market analysis and map competitors.

In the context of RISCAPE, the aim of the landscape analysis is to map the research infrastructure landscape internationally and to find out how the European infrastructures are positioning themselves globally.

The key elements of a landscape analysis are defining users of the analysis, the scope, used methods and parameters to study. By users we mean stakeholders such as funding agencies, the European Commission, ESFRI and research infrastructures around the world. The scope means defining the organizations that are analysed.

We use interviews and questionnaires as our main method which are complemented by information collecting from existing available sources, such as reports and previous landscape analyses.

What is a research infrastructure?

The term “Research Infrastructure” is not uniformly and globally defined. The Directorate-General for Research European Commission defines the Research Infrastructures:

research infrastructure means facilities, resources and related services that are used by the scientific community to conduct top-level research in their respective fields and covers major scientific equipment or sets of instruments; knowledge-based resources such as collections, archives or structures for scientific information; enabling Information and Communications Technology-based infrastructures such as Grid, computing, software and communication, or any other entity of a unique nature essential to achieve excellence in research. Such infrastructures may be “single-sited” or “distributed” (an organised network of resources)”

As there is no global definition on what actually is a research infrastructure, we use the following definition which assumes that the research infrastructure:

  • Has science or research is in its core
  • Is longstanding and its time horizon is longer than a research project
  • Offers services to users outside the infrastructure
  • Reaches scientific impact that is expected from ESFRI landmarks or projects.

In the RISCAPE project we have studied research infrastructures in eight different fields: environmental, biomedical, physics and engineering, energy, astronomical and astroparticle physics, social sciences, cultural heritage, digital humanities and language and e-infrastructures.

The ultimate goal for RISCAPE is to provide a systematic, focused, high-quality, comprehensive, consistent and peer-reviewed international landscape analysis report on the position and complementarities of the major European research infrastructures in the international research infrastructure landscape. The results are known at the end of 2019.

How are research infrastructures benefiting from RISCAPE’s work?

European research infrastructures are a key source of RISCAPE analysis material. The European research infrastructures are interesting for RISCAPE for many reasons. For example, the main objective of the RISCAPE project is to analyse the international RI landscape from the point-of-view of the European RIs and the European RIs are their own experts on their field. They have the connections and internal knowledge of similar initiatives from their field of science.

By taking part in the RISCAPE analysis, the RI can use the information from it to:

  • Determine the position in the field, where each ESFRI RI is located in the science field, what are their specialities and benefits. This strategic information can be useful for positioning the European infrastructures and prioritizing their development.
  • Advertise the role of the European RIs on international user communities.
  • Help on the long term planning and for example on considering continuation programs.
  • Make an independent evaluation on the situation in the landscape.