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RTD info logoMagazine on European Research N° 50 - August 2006   
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 HOME
 TABLE OF CONTENTS
 EDITORIAL
 "There is plenty to communicate…"
 Science as a sign of the times
 Research and the philanthropists
 Fotis Kafatos: the model mentor
 Movement on the biofuel front
 What’s good for the goose…
 Deviance, the environment and genetics
 Alternative visions of the Euro-Mediterranean
 HD69830 and its three Neptunes
 COMMUNICATING SCIENCE
 IN BRIEF
 PUBLICATIONS
 AGENDA

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RTD INFO, ISSUE 50
Title  Sound in body and mind...

The 50th issue of a magazine is cause for celebration. It is also the ideal moment to look back at what has been achieved and at the prospects for the future. As the communication tool of the Research Directorate-General, the mission of RTD info is to chart the progress of the European Research Area in all its various forms and manifestations – its implications, its challenges, and the debate on the directions science and technology are taking and what these could mean for society as a whole. The total print run for the three language versions – French, English and German – has reached 86 000, copies while the on-line version – also available in Spanish – can be accessed via the Research DG’s website on Europa.eu. To reach a broad public, RTD info is written by scientific journalists whose aim is not only to inform but also to contribute to the understanding of science and its integration within the cultural landscape.

RTD Info - 1993
July 1993. The first issue of the magazine was published under the blazing headline: “Welcome to   RTD info!”  This launch of a first modest publication dedicated to European research coincided with the launch of the €13.1 billion Fourth Framework Programme (1994-1998). Its aims were primarily informative and pragmatic: to put the spotlight on new research programmes and activities supported by the European Commission. The target audience was essentially the science and technology players interested in hearing about calls for proposals, upcoming conferences and scheduled publications. The newsletter was published in English, ran to four pages and made very sparing use of colour – in addition to red, there was the blue of Europe and the yellow circle of symbolic stars.

From a newsletter to a magazine
RTD Info 31
The big changes began in 1997. By then, the newsletter had grown to 12 pages, was also published in French and German, had reached issue 14 and sections were available on-line. For the first time, it included genuine ‘papers’ devoted to European programmes and projects. “Information on European research needs to be more transparent if, in addition to scientific, industrial and political circles, it also wants to reach the wider public of Europe’s citizens,” the Research DG’s Michel Claessens, who remains the magazine’s editor, wrote at the time. "Contrary to what is widely believed, people are in fact keenly interested in progress in science and technology. It is to respond to this need that RTD info aims to offer its readers information that reflects the lively and dynamic nature of Community research today.”

The next issue (n°15) did precisely that, with a 32-page full-colour magazine and a print run of 48 000 copies for the three language versions combined. Entitled Setting course for the XXIst century to mark the policy change represented by the Fifth Framework Programme, this issue also included a dossier on sustainable energy and a dozen articles and interviews on various fields of research. These texts were all written by professional scientific journalists.

Questioning and explaining
RTD Info - Art & Science
From 1998, the magazine was graced with dossiers on a variety of subjects, such as ‘Research and employment’, ‘Women and science’ and ‘The laboratory backroom boys’. Its first special issue was devoted to the ‘Blue planet’. The new priorities of RTD info’s editorial policy were established. Firstly, it would seek to present in the most accessible and understandable way possible – and in cooperation with the various stakeholders – the work and the goals of European projects and programmes, the reality and the challenges of scientific studies, and the results obtained in the framework of scientific and technological development cooperation. Secondly, this ‘accessibility’ would concern in particular the placing of research in the context of society. One of the main aims of RTD info is to highlight subjects in which science and society engage in a mutual questioning. This is why major importance is given to the social sciences and humanities and in particular to the very subject of the difficulty of this questioning, namely the communication of science and technology.

In 1999, the magazine continued to evolve. It grew to 40 pages with a bigger print run. On the agenda, at this point, were the new strategic approaches of European research policy adopted when implementing the Key Actions of the 1998-2002 Fifth Framework Programme. In the wake of this came two special issues, one on ‘The ‘grandchildren’ of Marie Curie’ and the other on ‘SMEs, The busy bees of research’. In 2000, a cover was devoted to the decisive direction taken in creating a genuine European Research Area, initiated by Philippe Busquin, who was Commissioner at that time. Another issue included a dossier entitled Science and doubts, which clearly stated the magazine’s editorial line on the relationship between science and society.

Research in all its glory
RTD Info 28
Over the past six years, the quarterly issues of RTD info have been placed very much in the context of this open view of the European Research Area and have turned their attention to a wide range of subjects. The dossiers and articles have covered both fundamental advances in science (the life sciences and biomedicine, nanotechnologies, physics, global change) and the major technological challenges facing Europe (space policy, hydrogen fuel cells, the car of the future, intelligent textiles, etc.).

They have tackled ‘sensitive’ subjects, seeking to respond to the questions raised by the general public in connection with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), more popularly known as ‘mad cow’ diseases, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), nuclear energy, security and mobile telephones. Thoughts and explanations have been offered on many aspects of research policy in a Union of 25 countries. New regular features have also made their appearance, such as portraits of researchers or ‘Science within arm’s reach’ which provides news on events linked to the communication of research. The flow of special issues continued, taking a deeper look into certain subjects, including both concrete aspects of research as well as novel approaches to science and technology in such fields as art, memory and dialogue with society.

Images and audience
RTD Info 43
In the meantime, RTD info’s graphic identity evolved to make it more attractive visually. This also applies to the web version, which is available on the Europa site, with all the limitations and potential an electronic edition implies.

Today, RTD info has a print run of 86 000 copies: 36 000 in English, 30 000 in French and 20 000 in German. The magazine is sent free of charge to subscribers and copies are distributed at many conferences, seminars and exhibitions relating to the European Research Area. In 2005, the website – which also offers a Spanish version – received 35 000 visits a month. Given that copies are likely to be passed around between a number of people, whether it be the printed versions or electronically, it is estimated that the RTD info content reaches, at least occasionally, an audience of half a million readers. That makes it one of the most widely read EU publications. It is also one of the few to have chalked up 50 issues. 

New look
RTD Info 33
The beginning of 2007 will see the launch of a Seventh Framework Programme, with boosted resources and increased ambitions, thanks to the efforts of Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik. Marking further progress, the magazine of European research will appear more frequently, will get a new look and its content will evolve, all in keeping with the dual notion of change and continuity.

A particularly important aspect will be the increased synergy between the printed version and the potential offered by the electronic version. This will permit greater interactivity between RTD info and its readers, especially its younger readership who, we must never forget, are the brains of the future. While retaining the editorial line to which it owes its success and originality and respecting the same spirit and tone, RTD info will try to further increase the visibility of an ever-evolving European Research Area, which is rapidly establishing itself as one of the pillars on which the EU is being built.


Printable version

  READ MORE  
  Special issues

The first special issue of the magazine was published in 1999. This looked at the 23 Key Actions of the Fifth Framework Programme (1998-2002). In January 2001, another special edition marked ‘European Science Week’. Since then, a whole series have been produced on ‘Marie Curie Actions’ ...
 
  Does RTD info have a good press?

Two readership surveys have been carried out to date. The first was a questionnaire enclosed with issue 29 (April 2001) which received 700 replies. Interviews conducted in five EU countries and Poland completed the analysis, carried out by a specialist company. The conclusion is that RTD info ...
 
  They have said…

I’ve just received my first issue of your publication. I want to express my gratitude to all of you for sending me such a great magazine.
Isaac Fuenmayor (Columbia)

RTD info is a ‘tool’ that really must be developed and that should be found in every family, ...
 

  TO FIND OUT MORE  
 
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      Special issues

    The first special issue of the magazine was published in 1999. This looked at the 23 Key Actions of the Fifth Framework Programme (1998-2002). In January 2001, another special edition marked ‘European Science Week’. Since then, a whole series have been produced on ‘Marie Curie Actions’ (August 2003), ‘Research and international co-operation’ (July 2005) and, more recently, ‘Science dialogues’ which was distributed at the Communicating European Research Conference in November 2005. RTD info also focuses on subjects that allow science and research to be presented from an unexpected angle, such as ‘Art and science’ (March 2004), ‘Science and memory’ (April 2005) and ‘Polar research’ (May 2005).

      Does RTD info have a good press?

    Two readership surveys have been carried out to date. The first was a questionnaire enclosed with issue 29 (April 2001) which received 700 replies. Interviews conducted in five EU countries and Poland completed the analysis, carried out by a specialist company. The conclusion is that RTD info is seen as a ‘different’ kind of European publication, both serious and attractive which provides readily understandable information. Most of the questionnaire respondents were aged between 32 and 61 and had a high level of education (41% had a PhD). New subscribers bring down this average, however, with students making up 56% of readers. These also widen the readership to include a less specialised public. The dossiers, portraits, interviews and special issues are all popular.

    A second readership survey has just been carried out via the magazine’s website (see RTD info n°49). The 624 first replies received would seem to confirm the findings of the first survey. One-third of the replies came from the scientific world and 15% from students.

    Half of these ‘declared’ readers are in the 30-50 age group, 20% are aged between 25 and 30, and 10% under 25. Overall, the questions relating to the quality of the magazine elicited overwhelmingly positive responses. Global estimates range from 20% who view it as very good, 45% as good and 30% as satisfactory. These vary depending on the subject but the positive appraisals always clearly outweigh the negative ones that account for 5% at most. Readers were asked to give their verdict on the subjects covered by the magazine, the quality of the dossiers, the interest of the editorials and the comprehensibility of the texts.

    Some 85% of respondents approved of the layout and 75% of the website. Seven out of ten considered that RTDinfo increases their interest in science while more than 80% said that by reading it they learned something new in the field and found information on European research policy and on Europe in general.

    The website is the preferred means of access to the content for 45% of respondents, while 30% say they prefer the print version. More than half of respondents find the present frequency to be satisfactory (four issues a year plus some specials). Another question was asked about the title. The name RTDinfo (1) sometimes appears rather cryptic… but this is not the view of 60% of the survey participants. 

    (1) RTD is the acronym used by the Commission to refer to ‘research and technological development’. 

      They have said…

    I’ve just received my first issue of your publication. I want to express my gratitude to all of you for sending me such a great magazine.
    Isaac Fuenmayor (Columbia)

    RTD info is a ‘tool’ that really must be developed and that should be found in every family, especially with children. Bernard Linard (Belgium)

    I am working at the Open University and have a very strong research interest in science-society relationships and science communication/education. Recently I had a glance at the two special issues of RTD info on Eurobarometer and science dialogue. Well done!
    Joachim Allgaier (United Kingdom)

    Well produced and with an instructive content it keeps me up to date on scientific activity. Thank you! I particularly like the dossiers. 
    Jean-Marcel Schorderet (Switzerland)

    Your magazine RTD info really is very well done. The pictures and illustrations are superb; the choice of features is excellent. Keep up the good work!
    Jean Rossier (France)

    RTD info of March 2004 on art and science is particularly interesting. It presents a view of a generally very complex subject in a way that makes one want to look at the world differently.
    Barbara Gessler (Germany)

    Do not improve the magazine, but improve awareness of it by, for example, sending it to schools across Europe. Children are the future and there are a lot of items that could interest them in the magazine.
    Yvonne Muizet (Italy)

    TO FIND OUT MORE

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