Ever wondered where our taxpayer dollars go? Our government funds a lot of research, some of which can be viewed in websites like PubMed from the National Institute of Health (NIH). The National Science Foundation (NSF) has no similar portal that allows taxpayers to see findings that result from its funding. The researchers and more practice-oriented organizations that receive funding may create project websites to share their findings. That’s great, but what happens to the website when the funding runs out? Journal publications certainly live on, but the context of a project’s body of work can get lost once funding ends.
Some people create standalone websites for their projects, or project web pages on their organization’s website. Others only have a project presence through their conference presentations and body of publications. But, there are also those who leverage the enduring presence of websites that aggregate and curate topical content. While a project is active (aka funded), it has a presence within someone else’s web ecosystem. After a project closes up shop and moves on, their resources are annotated and organized in an enduring knowledge base.
Many federally funded programs have their own (mega) websites that support their research and practitioner communities. They are aligned by funding program and primarily serve their own grantees. They can be a treasure trove for those in the know.
A variant to this model can be found in the Women in STEM Knowledge Center (www.wskc.org) powered by WEPAN, a non-profit professional association that works to advance women in STEM. Using the WSKC’s “Connected Advocates” program,(www.wskc.org/connected-advocates), projects can showcase their current activities and leverage the audience who already show up for this topic. The WSKC Resource library (www.wskc.org/resources) uses a multi-level custom taxonomy (a hierarchy of keywords) to organize and integrate publications and web resources into an enduring repository.
Research is a terrible thing to waste if it is not findable by people who care.