The Inspires development was based on a key output from the Brain project, the ConnectApp tool. This was a web-based facility to find connections and potential areas for collaboration – including oblique and unusual ones – between researchers, as well as providing more conventional research topic search facilities. Because the Brain project was primarily concerned with research at Coventry University, information came from various university databases and similar information sources which held information particularly on expertise, interests, publications and projects. For the Inspires development information from other (mainly less formal) sources, was also used, especially web pages and online documents. The scope of the system was widened to allow connections between entities other than researchers, such as projects, for instance, also to be found. Shown is an example of output from the tool. In this case, connections from a researcher at the centre of the diagram, with interests particularly in cancer research and wireless sensor networks is shown to other researchers, with connection topics indicated and closer connections clustered near the centre. Highlighted are several unusual connections from completely different disciplines.

ConnectApp example screen shot

Combining the output of the ConnectApp with information from using semantic tools and techniques provided a powerful set of composite tools to find connections, which could then be part of wider integrated tools with the visualisation environment.