Eldis review of the year 2013

14th January 2014

It’s been a busy year here at Eldis Towers. Aside from responding to the usual steady stream of enquiries about caravan parts we’ve found the time to achieve quite a bit.

This is the serious bit [skip to the fun bit]

As you may have read we’ve recently embarked on an ambitious new project with eight new partners that will help us continue to innovate in our efforts to increase global access to high quality and diverse research evidence on international development. The new project will really kick in after the new year but in the meantime we've been busy doing what we do best. Here’s the Eldis year in numbers...



One of the things we've worked hard on this year is increasing our visibility in developing countries so we're particularly pleased that in 2013 almost half (48%) of our users were from the global south. We're aiming to break to 50/50 barrier next year!


  We have also refocussed slightly to work more directly with research producers (e.g. SPARC Nigeria) to increase the reach of their research so we're happy to see that 2, 3 and 4 in our top 5 most popular new documents added to Eldis in 2013 were ones which have been heavily promoted through our own channels.

Here's the list...

  1. The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerisation? (added November)
  2. The Hunger And Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI 2012) (added April)
  3. Rising Powers in International Development: an annotated bibliography  (added March)
  4. Innovation and best practice in mobile technologies for development (added October)
  5. Turn down the heat: why a 4°C warmer world must be avoided (added January)

But worth admitting also that we did nothing at all to push the outright winner! This just goes to show that no matter how much you think you know, the internet can always surprise you!  

This is the fun bit 

So with this in mind we thought, as the year draws to an end that it might be nice to share some of the things that have stood out for us over the year. Sometimes because they've inspired us, occasionally because they've annoyed us, but most often because they've just made us laugh. Here it is then, the Eldis team's review of the year...  

Jargon to look out for in 2014

We do like, or love to hate, a good bit of development jargon and we get quite excited round the office when new development-speak emerges. This year we've noticed that the world of ecology seems to have been a particularly favoured discipline for appropriating new development terminology, so our two top tips for pervasive and over-used terms you'll be sick of in 2014 are: 

  1. Ecosystems. No-one is talking about "networks" or "linkages" (one of our pet-hates in 2012) anymore - from 2013 the vague catch-all term for any relationship consisting of more than two actors is an "ecosystem".
  2. Ground truthing. Originally, we believe, a term describing the collection of field data used to support remote sensing in environmental research - ground truthing is being adopted with gusto among our colleagues to mean the testing of any kind of new theory on real people. Expect to see it in a powerpoint presentation near you soon (if you haven't already)!

Climate wrongs, human rights

When you have more than 2000 new research documents passing through each year some are bound to stand out - and not always for the right reasons. The prevalence of bad puns and plays on words in research article titles seems, disappointingly, to have diminished in recent years - see Latin American community telecenters: IT’s a long way to TICperary and Climate wrongs and human rights.

This year though the titles trend we're noticing is to go epic! If your title is under 30 words in length, don't even bother. Here are our top three...



As internet connectivity gets better development organisations are increasingly embracing multimedia content. Here at Eldis we've even been having a go ourselves but it's a relatively new thing for us. So we've been happy to see that the genre has already evolved to the point where it can be entertainingly juvenile and also satirise it's own sense of worthiness, while still getting the message across. Here then are our favourite multimedia products of 2013.

  1. Remote control poo. Yes you read correctly. Probably not one to watch while eating.
  2. Let's Save Africa. Spot on satire from the makers of last year's RadiAid - Africa for Norway. Their awards are worth checking out too.
  3. TIMS -- A Revolutionary New One for One Campaign. Smoothie makers for Africa!

Well that's it for 2013. Our deepest thanks to everyone that has contributed to Eldis over the year. We look forward to seeing you all in the New Year

Sprout photo: Chris Yarzab