Connecting Science and Society


Research doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The greatest impact of research has always been how it connects science and society and helps us understand the world we live in. Mendeley was started to “change the way we do research” by making it easier to disseminate these ideas through publication and to create a way for researchers to connect with one another.

But it can sometimes feel there is a disconnect between research and researchers and policymakers and fellow citizens — the dreaded Ivory Tower affect. How do we bridge the perceived gap between scientific knowledge and those that set direction for our world?

Mendeley, as part of Elsevier, is supporting a new initiative with Atomium — The European Institute for Science, Media and Democracy, that seeks to increase collaboration and cooperation between policy makers, scientists, communicators, educators, and other people. The REIsearch platform officially launches today in the EU and is available in six languages: French, Italian, English, Polish, Portuguese, and German. The platform asks researchers and others to answer short weekly questionnaires on five different topic areas on a weekly basis. Though the launch is in the EU, researchers from all parts of the world are encouraged to join the conversation.

Our Mendeley Advisors are also participating in the conversation. Over the next five weeks, we will publish guest blog posts by Advisors on each of the five topic areas, alongside an exclusive art by science illustrator Claudia Stocker. The five subtopics are:

  • Prevention is the better cure (week of 15 Feb)
  • New technologies and innovation (week of 22 Feb)
  • Citizens’ rights and responsibilities (week of 29 Feb)
  • Diabetes and nutrition (week of 7 March)
  • More and better data (week of 14 March)

Learn more about the REIsearch project and its background (republished with permission from Elsevier Connect):

The recent announcement by President Obama of the so-called “cancer moonshot” to cure cancer is a prime example of the importance of collaboration among policy makers, scientists, communicators and educators. These are the very pillars behind the new REIsearch platform created by Atomium – European Institute for Science, Media and Democracy(EISMD) and supported by Elsevier.
“Innovation and new scientific discoveries are improving people’s lives and making our economy more competitive,” said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. “Science should be open and freed from its traditional ivory tower to be discussed, submitted to critique and fed with new perspectives. That’s why I warmly welcome efforts such as the REIsearch initiative to get Europeans engaged in the debate about science and research and inspire fresh ideas about how to solve some of our society’s most pressing problems.”
The platform aims to:

  • Create a responsible and informed multi-stakeholder debate on an issue affecting. millions of European citizens, researchers, policymakers and stakeholders.
  • Create and promote access to reliable information on the issue.
  • Increase international, inter-disciplinary and inter-sectorial debate.
  • Bridge the gap between science, society and policy, also by involving the media.
  • REIsearch seeks to connect the experience of European Union citizens with the expertise of EU researchers to support policy makers with decisions that affect society.

“To win such an ambitious challenge,” said Valéry Giscard d’Estaing Bonvicini, Honorary President of ATOMIUM (EISMD). “Together with our partners, we have opted for a gradual approach, aiming at developing initiatives linked to specific scientific topics starting with those of greatest impact, limiting the platform’s functions to the essential. In the coming years additional functionalities will be available, allowing citizens to directly interact with experienced researchers at both national and European level.”

The platform will function as a discussion hub on global societal issues. The first topic is chronic disease; discussions on aging, climate change and energy will follow. As the world’s population ages, the treatment, cure and prevention of chronic disease and its priority as a global challenge prompted its selection as the first initiative. The scope of the problem is enormous. In Europe, chronic disease affects more than 80 percent of Europeans over 65, and 10 percent of GDP is spent on health. Solutions need support from all sectors to be successful.

REIsearch’s ambition is to bridge the gap between research, policy and the public by providing a place where these members of the community can engage with each other and where the general public is given an opportunity to be part of the conversation about how chronic diseases should be managed. The public voice should ideally be a highly influential one when it comes to policies that impact local, regional and international issues such as chronic disease management.

The platform, which is currently receiving the majority of its funding from the European Commission, will be launched today in Austria, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Ireland, Poland and Luxembourg. It will be available in six languages: French, Italian, English, Polish, Portuguese and German.

Elsevier has been a key player in supporting the initiative, helping with funding and the platform itself, which has benefited from the use of Mendeley. Elsevier will help in the sharing of information to the public as well as driving researcher traffic to the REIsearch platform.

“Elsevier has a responsibility to support the research community,” said Elsevier CEO Ron Mobed. “In this case, we can serve by facilitating ways in which viewpoints and information about pressing global issues can be shared. It will be especially important to encourage researchers to participate in the dialogue with the public on the subject of chronic disease.”

While REIsearch is being launched in the EU, researchers from all parts of the world are encouraged to join the conversation. When the platform is live, short weekly questionnaires will encourage visitors to share their knowledge on key issues related to five subtopics. These five subtopics are:

  • Prevention is the better cure (week of 15 Feb)
  • New technologies and innovation (week of 22 Feb)
  • Citizens’ rights and responsibilities (week of 29 Feb)
  • Diabetes and nutrition (week of 7 March)
  • More and better data (week of 14 March)

Researchers and the general public who would like to participate in REISearch forums on chronic disease can do so by visiting the platform:

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