Tracking the impact of research and the 'reach' of messages in various forms - blogs, news, commentary - across the world could become easier in the future thanks to European funding for an innovative web application to measure and visualise the impact of digital texts over time.
Led by Prof. Christoph Meyer from King's College London in the UK with an European Research Council (ERC) Proof of Concept grant, the IMPACTTRACER project is developing an app to analyse texts available in the digital world, whether ancient scriptures or the latest news and press releases. The software could ultimately track how much influence a particular press release, for example, has on subsequent blog posts or social media.
The tool will offer a cost-effective and efficient means of analysing messages and possible trends. According to news on King's College London's website the app could be used by ad agencies, NGOs and political parties to monitor over time the impact of their public pronouncements and corporate messages.
'[The tool] will be of special interest to those looking to evaluate the success of a particular campaign, for example, a drive to stop people smoking,' the report continues.
Lead researcher Dr Christoph Meyer is working with the Department of Digital Humanities at King's College to establish contacts with international research groups working on text-mining. This, combined with data mining, uses software to identify trends and patterns from multiple texts.
'We are very excited about this opportunity to develop a tool with a wide range of applications in academic and commercial research,' said Dr Meyer, who heads the Department of European and International Studies at King's College. 'We hope to improve techniques used to make large data sets more accessible and relevant to social science studies,' he added.
The project's EUR 154 573 in funding (EUR 139 366 from the EU) is the result of a competition for 'proof of concept' ideas by the European Research Council (ERC). This scheme allows researchers who already hold ERC grants to bridge the final gap between their research and the earliest stages of innovation.
In this case, according to the research team, the funding will be used to test the prototype web application and produce a business plan to attract commercial players. The IMPACTTRACER project concludes in July 2013.
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More information: IMPACTTRACER cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/103398_en.html