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In October 2014, the ERC published the volume “Science Behind the Projects - Research Funded by the European Research Council in FP7 (2007-2013)”. The report provides: (i) a general overview of the research landscape of the projects funded by the ERC in FP7 in the domains of life sciences, physical sciences and engineering, and social sciences and humanities, (ii) an analysis of cross-panel and cross-domain interactions, and (iii) an analysis of how the bottom-up research funded by the ERC contributes to particular European thematic policy priorities.

Collecting structured information about the scientific content of all the projects funded by the ERC in FP7 was a major undertaking, for which a dedicated database was created. The collected data relates to the baseline scientific information included in the research proposals, as the vast majority of the projects were still ongoing.

The ERC Scientific Council is interested to continue the ex-ante analysis of the scientific content of the funded projects, using human judgement (i.e. the scientific officers) that will enable the ERC to report on the research disciplines/topics/methods that the ERC is funding, including on funding trends.

The mission of the Working Group on Science-Behind-the-Projects is:

  • to build a project classification system that should offer a fast and an as comprehensive as possible characterisation of the ERC-funded research activities (including detection of trends as well as identification of common/complementary efforts),
  • to identify the potential users and the best way to employ this system,
  • to analyse and disseminate the data.

The classification vocabulary will be constructed along three non-hierarchical dimensions: disciplines (aligned with accepted ontologies), topics (research areas at the forefront of scientific knowledge) and methods (methodological approaches). The system should be simple (number of terms and complexity of the system need to be kept to a minimum in order to be consistent), robust (such that no changes are needed retroactively), and able to evolve (such that new emerging areas can be introduced when identified).

In addition to the classification system, the exercise should also allow the assignment of projects based on various 'tags', such as “societal challenges” and/or “cross-cutting issues”.


ERC Executive Agency secretariat: Elena Volpi, Unit Support to the Scientific Council