ESFRI Glossary

ESFRI engages in a fully transparent road mapping process with clearly stated rules and procedures. The definitions described herein apply to the Roadmap 2018 update.


A distributed RI consists of a Central Hub and interlinked National Nodes and needs to:

- have a unique specific name and legal status and governance structure with clear responsibilities and reporting lines, including international supervisory and appropriate external advisory bodies; - have legally binding attributions of coordination competences and resources to the Central Hub;

- have a common access policy9 and provide for a single point of access for all users with a support structure dedicated to optimise the access for the proposed research; - have a user programme designed to absorb a considerable part of the total capacity of the RI;

- identify and agree upon relevant and measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPI) addressing both excellence of scientific services and sustainability of operation;

- have a human resources policy adequate to warrant the necessary competences for the effective operation of the Central Hub and to support the user’s programme, and to encompass hiring, equal opportunities, secondments, education and training;

- define a joint investment strategy aimed at strengthening the RI through the Nodes and common/shared facilities.

The ESFRI Landmarks are the RIs that were implemented or started implementation under the ESFRI Roadmap and are now established as major elements of competitiveness of the European Research Area. The ESFRI Landmarks need continuous support for successful completion, operation and upgrade in line with the optimal management and maximum return on investment.

ESFRI-MOS is the central online platform for information on the ESFRI Projects and ESFRI Landmarks. The overall objective is to provide efficient knowledge management for supporting political decision making and public awareness on the ESFRI Research Infrastructures.

The ESFRI Projects have been selected for scientific excellence and maturity and are included in the Roadmap in order to underline their strategic importance for the European Research Infrastructure system and support their timely implementation. The ESFRI Projects can be at different stages of their preparation according to the date of inclusion in the ESFRI Roadmap.

The ESFRI has a key role in policy-making on research infrastructures in Europe. In particular the ESFRI contributes to the development of a strategic roadmap that identifies vital new European RIs for the next 10-20 years. In 2006, exactly ten years ago, ESFRI published its first roadmap for the construction and development of the next generation of pan-European research infrastructures. The roadmap was updated in 2008, 2010, 2016 and 2018, to include projects and landmarks that intend to foster European leadership across a broad range of scientific fields.

A series of exchange of experience (EoE) workshops to promote mutual learning and identify best practices, facilitating their adoption among managers of research infrastructures and stakeholder networks. The Workshops are organized by StR-ESFRI.

The GSO has defined GRI upon mandate by the G8+510 and recognises the vital role of GRI in addressing worldwide science and technology challenges and the benefits of coordinating investments in GRI to efficiently use the available resources and fully realise their potential benefits. GRI may be single-site or distributed RI and should follow the ‘GSO Framework for Global Research Infrastructures’10 approved by the GSO in 2014. The GSO updated a list11 of potential GRI is continuously offering opportunities for matchmaking exercises. The GSO members can propose GRI candidates seeking for international partnership. GSO members, including the EC, can propose an ESFRI RI as potential GRI.

The Landscape Analysis identifies the main RIs operating open access in Europe, in all field, and major new or ongoing projects. This includes national, regional and international facilities as well as consortia that offer integrated services and transnational access to state-of-the-art resources for research. The Landscape Analysis is a reference document for information and does not represent in any way a prioritization of ESFRI for future investments or the view or any commitment on the part of ESFRI members.

A major upgrade is an upgrade to an operational RI with the goal of delivering a transformative effect to its scientific outputs, or a substantial change of technical approach and does not mean routine maintenance or incremental gains. To that end, any applications to the Roadmap, which come under the category of upgrade, will be required to include robust justification describing the degree of upgrade. An existing RI planning a major upgrade can submit a proposal to become a Project.

The following definition for RI from Article 2 (6) of the Regulation (EU) No 1291/2013 of 11 December 2013: `Establishing Horizon 2020 - the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014- 2020)` applies: “RI are facilities, resources and services that are used by the research communities to conduct research and foster innovation in their fields. They include: major scientific equipment (or sets of instruments), knowledge-based resources such as collections, archives and scientific data, einfrastructures, such as data and computing systems and communication networks and any other tools that are essential to achieve excellence in research and innovation.” Accordingly, RI are implemented along different organisational models, including central sources and laboratories for experiments and measurement sessions, coordination and management of geographically distributed observatories or laboratories, remotely accessible resources for computing, data banks, physical sample repositories, surveys and longitudinal studies. 

A single-site RI is a geographically localised central facility designed for user access whose governance - in the case of ESFRI - is European or international. A single-site RI needs to: - have a legal status and governance structure with clear responsibilities and reporting lines, including international supervisory and relevant external advisory bodies; - have an access policy8 and access point for external users facilitating the submission of proposals through a user programme designed to absorb a considerable part of the total capacity of the RI; - have a user support structure in place to optimise access, such as user’s office space, ancillary laboratories, accommodation arrangements and logistics; - have a data management system allowing for easy storage, retrieval of data and on-line/insitu/remote data reduction and analysis; - identify and agree upon relevant and measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPI) addressing both excellence of scientific services and sustainability issues; - demonstrate a human resources policy to gather the necessary competences for its operation, hiring, equal opportunities, education and training.

Since 2006, ESFRI has presented a series of Roadmap updates supporting a coherent and strategy-led approach to the development of pan-European Research Infrastructures, which would ensure that scientists in Europe have access to worldclass facilities enabling them to do cutting-edge research. This has been possible by establishing the Strategy Working Groups in five research domains and the Implementation Group, transversal to all research areas. These permanent Working Groups periodically performed an in-depth analysis of the scientific aspects and the maturity features of the Research Infrastructures of ESFRI portfolio. The Strategy Working Groups are the ESFRI instruments to analyse the scientific aspects of Research Infrastructures in a given field of research.