EXPLOREit @ ICRISAT breaks barriers, making scientific information more accessible to the public

A new form of information management developed by ICRISAT gives the public a unique opportunity to explore and benefit from publicly-funded global agricultural research, knowledge and information.

EXPLOREit @ ICRISAT (localhost/exploreit) promises to make large volumes of agricultural scientific information more easily accessible to the public. It is the main source of ICRISAT’s scientific information, with profiles of all topics, systems, crops, resources, and locations where it works.

“We are doubly excited during this launch – not only have we given easier access to all of ICRISAT’s 40 years of scientific research through EXPLOREit, but we have achieved this through a new revolutionary way of making information accessible called the MultiProfiler concept,” said Dr William D. Dar, ICRISAT Director General.

The concept of the new information management system – MultiProfiler

We found that typical websites were too restrictive in providing access to information due to their single navigation structure, and databases or searches did not present the information in ways that were easy for people to scan the detail of the content. ICRISAT’s new MultiProfiler concept provides information through multiple navigations and creates easy-to-scan profiles on the subject areas.

Key features

MultiProfiler is a new form of information management. It is a new way to make information easily accessible. The key features of MultiProfiler are:

  • Multiple navigation: The ‘MultiProfiler’ concept is based on firstly identifying the categories by which people come looking for information. This forms the basis of the multiple navigations as each category has its own navigation and tabs with information. The information can be repeated within any or all categories if relevant.

    People come looking for information on ICRISAT’s science based on:
    1. Topics (such as nutrition or climate change);
    2. Specific crops;
    3. Geographic locations;
    4. Type of farming systems; and
    5. Resource types such as publications and data.
  • Profiles designed: Sub-categories/subject areas are then identified and profiles created for each. Profiles have been designed as easy to scan content. Each profile follows an overall design for ease of familiarity, but still allows flexibility in the information that can be included. For EXPLOREit @ ICRISAT each profile is designed using horizontal tabs to present the needed content.
  • The same information can be found on different profiles if relevant. We believe it does not matter if the information is repeated, unlike a traditional website that typically has one location to navigate to find the information. So if ICRISAT has a publication, data set or video about chickpeas being used to cope with climate change in Eastern Africa, the same information will automatically feed and be displayed in all three profiles – chickpeas, Climate change and dryland stresses and Eastern Africa.
  • A platform has been developed for the profiles, and much of the content is fed automatically to it. To achieve this, ICRISAT has made a momentous leap in its use of technology – moving from a static website to a dynamic site that feeds information from databases using consistent metadata as well as harvesting information from other websites. A range of technologies are used on the platform, adapted depending on the source.
  • Ease of use and attractiveness: Despite its complex architecture consisting of the most recent technology and modern modular/distributed processes, ICRISAT has been able to balance this with the need for a simple user-friendly and attractive look to EXPLOREit. This was critical to the concept as the core of this initiative was to make it easier for people to find the information they require.
Some features of EXPLOREit
  1. A “Convert profile to PDF” feature places all the content of a particular profile onto a pdf document for further use.
  2. The ability to subscribe to latest updates by subject area.
  3. Social media sharing options.
  4. For the first time, we have all ICRISAT-involved projects available for public viewing.
  5. A ‘Fact of the day’ taken from one of the profiles is displayed on the home page and then links to the relevant profile.
  6. A feedback form to encourage feedback on EXPLOREit and its content.

“EXPLOREit reflects our commitment to make ICRISAT’s scientific information available to the public and also sets a higher bar and opportunity to collaborate and share information both to and from others.

How the idea of EXPLOREit came about

This idea was conceptualized in December 2012 when ICRISAT was analyzing its website for redevelopment. We realized that not all of our scientific information was available through our corporate website, and that including more content was only going to add more layers and complexity to its navigation. The traditional website just did not satisfy our needs to make our scientific information easily accessible to the global audience.

So the idea of a MultiProfiler for EXPLOREit @ ICRISAT was hatched, and we created a platform especially for ICRISAT’s scientific information. This would serve two purposes. It would complement our corporate website as well as allow us to simplify our corporate website, and to re-orientate and strengthen our corporate website to reflect our key messages and corporate information - something we are about to embark on now that EXPLOREit @ ICRISAT is up and running. Within ICRISAT’s corporate website, we will link to the relevant profiles in EXPLOREit anytime we want to provide more information.

EXPLOREit @ICRISAT is not meant to be the source of all knowledge but brings all the scientific information ICRISAT has to offer freely and easily accessible to anyone!

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