ERA Space - A European Union policy initiative
The MORESS project - Mapping of Research in European Social Sciences and Humanities, is an important contribution to the endeavour to establish a European Research Area in the social sciences and humanities. It was conceived, organised and coordinated by the European Universities Association (EUA) with the aim of improving access to information on research in social sciences and humanities. Through bringing together multiple sources of information in Europe into an integrated structure, MORESS aims to provide useful tools for interested researchers and decision-makers, and to enhance the future quality of European research.
The project is constructing a web-based cataloguing system for the collection, storage and linking of information about existing social science and humanities research databases. The meta-level tool describes existing sources of information on social science and humanities research across Europe. In addition, the project aims to pursue the concept of thematic mapping, with the objective of developing the utility of catalogued data to respond to the needs of European public policies.
Through tackling the challenge of improving access to comparable information and databases, MORESS will:
Institutions from 25 European countries are involved in this project, which began in April 2003 and has been planned to take two years for its completion. The MORESS web-based catalogue in which the information on SSH databases from the 25 partner countries has been entered, was developed by the Informationszentrum Sozialwissenschaften (GESIS IZ), in Bonn. The definition of the concepts and descriptors, the collection and analysis of information and the development of the catalogue required a good understanding of the national systems and took much of the first year's work. While the partners continue to input database information into the catalogue, the project has now turned to evaluating the utility of the tool.
MORESS will serve to identify the strengths and gaps in terms of access to information from databases in the different participating countries, and constitutes an important step towards establishing a European SSH information base.
 The European University Association, as the representative organisation of both the European universities and the national rectors' conferences, is the main voice of the higher education community in Europe. EUA website
Within the political framework determined by the Lisbon Strategy, the Barcelona Target and the creation of the ERA, social sciences and humanities play an increasingly important role to significantly strengthen economic growth and competitiveness in Europe, to modernise welfare systems and to ensure social cohesion and a better quality of life for European citizens.
To address this demanding agenda, researchers in the SSH across Europe need improved research infrastructures (services and facilities) to carry out their work and to support policy-makers at national and EU level.
In the Commission's Communication on the future EU policy for research (June 2004), the "development of research infrastructures of European interest' has been identified as one of the six major objectives for FP7. Based on that, the development of a consistent EU policy towards research infrastructures has become one of the most challenging tasks for the future.
The idea of developing a more coordinated European approach for policy-making in the field of research infrastructures in Europe is not really new. It emerged from the Strasbourg Conference on Research Infrastructures in 2000. The main results of that conference were taken up in a working document of the Commission Services in January 2001 and consequently led to the establishment of an Expert Group which recommended the creation of a European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) in January 2002. The ESFRI working group for SSH had already suggested some specific actions for future infrastructure investments in the "Blueprint Paper for the European Resource Observatory for the Humanities and Social Sciences (EROHS)'. EROHS can certainly be seen as an important input for future discussions on a common infrastructure policy in the field of SSH.
Recently, ESFRI decided to create three steering groups (physical sciences and engineering, biological and medical sciences, social sciences and humanities) which will contribute to the development of a roadmap for research infrastructures. ESFRI will identify the needs for specific infrastructures to be provided or upgraded to allow European researchers to conduct leading research. Furthermore, ESFRI - in its incubator role o will not prioritise and not decide on location but will give Member States and the European Commission an idea of maturity and international impact. The first roadmaps should be available in 2005 and will have yearly updates as different areas mature.