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ScientificCMS is an open source application that makes the creation and maintenance of websites easier for academic research institutes, at the same time that it facilitates scholarly communication and collaboration.

Research institutions have particular needs and characteristics that complicate the creation and maintenance of a website, and can pose particular problems for large academic institutions:

  • They deal with a large volume of highly complex scientific and scholarly material.

  • They must be able to process information from publications and research projects according to the precise rules of various disciplines, a process that can be extremely labour intensive.

  • Information may be equally relevant in a number of different context. A publication, for example, may be the result of work in several research projects.

Such institutions require a detailed information processing system that allows users to easily access and search this high volume of complex material. The presentation of information must be adapted to Web browsers and website reading habits, and information that is required on several different pages should nevertheless be accessed from a single source. Furthermore, because researchers tend to work collaboratively with individuals at other institutes, often in distant lands, Web technology should be fully exploited to provide a forum where a group of individuals who are collaborating on a project can share texts and data, or edit and comment on a common text.

Most popular content management systems (CMS) are based on individual Web pages, making them unsuitable for these purposes. The idea of ScientificCMS, on the other hand, is to manage content not pages. Information is stored as specially formatted documents that are organized by category and automatically prepared for Web presentation.

ScientificCMS shares a codebase and cooperates closely with the APLAWS+ project, a CMS that was designed for local governmental authorities in the United Kingdom. Both projects are user-group-specific adaptations of (Open)CCM, a general Web content management framework, which was originally developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology by Philip Greenspun and others.