How does ETHICSWEB work?

ETHICSWEB is designed as a decentralized structure which does not provide information of its own, but strives to make already existing information more visible and easier to access.

The portal has been developed as a content management system (CMS) which enables the coverage of heterogeneous information objects like ETHICSWEB does. The centrepiece of ETHICSWEB is the advanced search functionality which is mainly based on established open source software. The search functionality will enable the retrieval of information stored within the different databases integrated into ETHICSWEB with only one search-query. To achieve this comprehensive goal several ways of gathering data are employed:

Harvesting is a type of machine-to-machine communication in which two types of actors co-operate. Content (or data) providers contribute metadata and service providers organise metadata in databases and build search engines. The content providers, so to say, open 'back door' to their databases and expose metadata to standardised requests from service providers. Mostly OAI-PMH (Open Access Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting) standard is used. Standardised harvesting is the preferred way of content acquisition in ETHICSWEB. Other (non-OAI-PMH) standard ways of harvesting will be used for non-literature types of information objects and with content providers with which ETHICSWEB will reach corresponding agreements.

All important XML-based aggregation methods will be used to ensure the syndication of content from external sites which manage the ethics-in-science related public aggregation streams (e.g. scientific journals homepages). Users with authoring credentials will have the possibility to subscribe to such aggregation streams.
Aggregation with Ethicsweb-specific XML formats will be used to collect information from sources other than public streams (e.g. regional ethics-in-science related offices with information about their pending events, experts, etc).

Data Entry Tools
Besides these two methods ETHICSWEB also provides the opportunity to directly enter data into ETHICSWEB via a data entry tool. By doing so ETHICSWEB intends to remidy identified lacks in the acdemic infrastructure in regard to databases. Starting with the Literature entry tool ETHICSWEB is willing to provide interested institutions with these documentation tools for free as well.

Entry tools exist for
- Literature and Document like Objekts
- Knowledge Organisation Systems
- Teaching Materials
- Training Programmes
- Research Projects
- Ethics Experts
- Ethics Centres
- Events
- News
- Web Resources

These tools enable institutions to distribute their information with relatively low efforts. All Data Entry Tools comprise a sophisticated database technology that functions in accordance with the ETHICSWEB documentation standards. It can be used via the ETHICSWEB portal or implemented as a 'virtual' database on an external IT infrastructure. 'Virtual' Database means that it is not necessary to implement the software into ones own infrastructure but it can also be implemented into ETHICSWEB only. The data stored in the ETHICSWEB 'virtual' Database can, of course, be exported in order to serve as a database of its own. However, the database' content can easily be integrated into the ETHICSWEB search functionality at any time.

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