Guidelines
Guidelines explain the purpose, content and structure of the Gateway reports. They should be referred to before compiling the reports.

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What is the purpose?
What are the principles of the report?
How does the report operate?
What is the structure of the report?
What information should be included?
In what form should information be presented?
How to start editing?


What is the purpose?


The national/regional report constitutes the core part of the Gateway network. It aims to promote accessibility to and exchanges of information among the Gateway users, including decision-makers, planners, scientists and rural land users, on the state and trends of land, water and plant nutrition resources. National reports should be compiled by national institutions in the context of a regional report which discusses specific issues of the region to which the countries belong to. The collection of regional reports in turn should be considered as ingredients for a global prospective on the state of land, water and plant nutrition.


What are the principles of the report?


The report needs to be concise and to the point.

Let’s assure that this is a gateway. More important than giving too much detail on certain information is to provide reliable meta-data (title, year, data provider, place of data origin, etc.), rich references and well-sorted related Internet links. Clarify technical terms with definitions. Also, provide notes on methodology on how information has been generated. When FAO approach and methodology cannot be used, use data gathered by other methodologies with an indication of that methodology. Avoid or eliminate contradictions between the different sections of the report. Pay attention to quality control and harmonization of information between the sections. Consistency between data systems within and between countries and programmes is necessary. Please consult and collaborate with other national and regional institutions involved in similar activities and establish electronic communication linkages among the institutions.

The report needs to be easily understandable, reliable and accurate in content.

Pay attention that the information in the form of maps, tables, charts and photographic images is comprehensible, colour being distinguished and legends readable. The information has to be reasonably up-to-date, and not obsolete. This requires both constant updating in content and an indication of "when last updated".

The report has to be attractive.

Stand in the shoes of visitors. Whatever the differences in graphic and editorial taste may be, the report has to look in such a way that it encourages visitors to surf through with due comfort and curiosity. Try making it look interesting!


How does the report operate?


Each institution should prepare its own information and upload it on a local Internet server using the common HTML framework or Internet Template, thus creating an in situ web site. The site will then be networked to the AGL Gateway through a hyperlink. FAO takes care of updating the Gateway Home Page as new country profiles become available. Each institution is responsible for updating the contents of the report including the newly found related Internet links.


What is the structure of the report?


The report consists of two categories:

1. Regional report
2. Country report

The Regional report introduces issues relevant to the region. The Country report introduces issues pertaining to the country's state of land, water and plant nutrition resources. The content of both categories of report is similar and is based on the eight (8) sections introduced below.

The actual structure of the report is shown in the Checklist items. The checklist items have been elaborated in interaction with specialists from national institutions all over the world and are valid for national and regional reports. They constitute a general framework within which existing information can be inserted. This is to ensure that reports will be comparable along the lines of common themes, such as land use and degradation, state of water resources, hot spots and bright spots.

There are eight (8) sections. Specifically, they are:

1. Country overview
2. Land resources
3. Water resources
4. Plant nutrient resources
5. Hot spots
6. Bright spots
7. Challenges and viewpoints
8. References / Related internet links

From this menu list it is possible to jump to the respective sections which respectively show a sub-menu list showing subsections.

Besides the main content of the country report is also included a section dedicated to the References. It contains a bibliographic reference plus eventual links to publications, papers and articles available on the web either for viewing or direct download. The latter case implies that the files are properly checked and stored on the local server, in order to preserve the integrity of the software to be downloaded (avoid hyperlinking on remote servers to files whose integrity and virus-free status are not assured).

The same section includes Related Internet sites with the purpose of collecting hyperlinks to websites that host any relevant information about the main topics of the report. On selecting the sites to hyperlink, pay attention to the specific content of every website. Avoid any redundancy of information and clearly indicate the source of the data: institution, year of publication, purpose (commercial, governmental, NGO, etc.). Give brief annotation. Regularly search the Internet to find more sites concerning the arguments of interest.


What information should be included?


The standard contents of the report are suggested in Checklist items. It can be partially modified to suit specific needs and pertinence to each country/region.

If the information is not available or is not relevant for the area considered, the item content should be left empty in the report, or information may be added at a later date once it is available.

The checklist items will be updated from time to time as more experience is gained. As information becomes available and topical issues change (discussed in the challenges/viewpoint section), the report can be updated, new sections inserted and new links made. Combining information and presenting it in this format will make it more useful and also more easily used by decision makers and users.

The report is thus a 'live' document. Where possible, information should not merely be presented as static data but in the form of trends, preferably in a visual format (maps, tables, charts, images).


In what form should information be presented?


Information is presented in the forms of texts, maps, tables, charts (graphs) and photographs. Make sure there is no redundancy or inconsistency among pieces of information in different forms.


How to start editing?


In theory, the checklist directly becomes the Internet Template for preparing the web pages. The checklist can be used as it is for the Main page of the report. The work of compilation becomes replacing the content of the checklist with the actual content of the regional and the country report. The HTML template is available for download:

English template (zipped 95 KB)
Spanish template (zipped 106 KB)

Explanation on the structure of the template (Word doc 29 KB)

Reports prepared by the institutions that have participated in this network should be reviewed on line as models.

The first modification to do is to type the name of the country in the Home Page and substitute the dummy flag with the country national flag (flags of all countries are available digitized at this address: http://www.theodora.com/flags/ ). To insert new text-based information in the Main page, it is only necessary to open the Main page with any HTML editor and start adding the text. Supporting materials (maps, tables, graphs, and photos, etc.) are to be included separately in the supporting material pages. The text in the Main page should include hyperlinks to these supporting material pages.


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Last updated: 21 March 2003