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[This month's column is a little different. This month we feature Scholar-Net, a Web-based international exchange forum for scholars. Readers of this journal might consider sending their profiles to Scholar-Net, and they will also find other features, such as the lists of conferences, symposia, seminars and workshops useful, both for publicity and for new information. Do take a look at the Web site.]
A Web site for facilitating information exchange between scholars
A Web site <http://www.scholar-net.com> has recently been created to facilitate information exchange between scholars who have common interests but are located in different parts of the world.
The advanced communication facilities available today make it easier for scholars to exchange information with each other, provided they know who to exchange information with. This Web site aims to assist scholars to find other scholars with similar interests by publishing, at a readily accessible location, information on scholars' interests.
Scholars can let others know of their interests by publishing their scholar profiles at this site. The profiles can be one or more of the following three types: academic profile, which focuses on one's academic and research interests; consultancy profile, which draws attention to the specialist areas in which a scholar is able to offer consultancy service; and public service profile, which outlines any voluntary activity which a scholar may have undertaken for the benefit of academic and/or non-academic community.
A scholar profile published at this site will contain information on a scholar's interests and experience, and will include a list of the scholar's publications. Details of the publications (including abstracts) will be given in a separate page, but the titles in the main page will be linked individually to the relevant data in the details page to enable a reader to move from titles to details as easily as possible. If a scholar's publication is already available for viewing through the Internet, a further link will be provided from the details page to the publication itself to enable the reader to view it with minimum effort.
The names of scholars who publish their profile at this site are listed separately in Scholar Lists, which are created for each institution to which the scholars belong. A viewer can find a scholar's profile either by scanning the Scholar Lists, or by using a search facility, which will search all the scholar profiles published at this site. The search facility will scan through not just the names of scholars but through the entire contents of the scholar profiles, thus making it possible for a viewer to search for scholars with a specific interest or having some particular experience.
The site contains a separate section where scholars are able to post questions to fellow scholars. If a scholar viewing the site is able to respond to a particular query, he or she will respond to the query originator directly, without having to go through the Web site. The scholar's responses will therefore remain private (this is unlike in traditional message boards, where responses are published for all to see).
The Web site also includes a section in which scholars are able to list the research topics that postgraduate students can conduct under their supervision. The purpose of this section is to enable potential postgraduate students to identify topics in which they may carry out research. Links are provided between research topics and the profiles of relevant research supervisors, to make it easier for students to get more information about the relevant supervisors and, if necessary, make contact with them to explore the research opportunities.
The Web site also includes lists of conferences, symposia, seminars, workshops and other events planned around the world. The lists are categorized by subject, and to make reference easy, brief details of each event, such as the name of the event, the date and location of the event, and the last date for submitting abstracts of papers are included within the lists. In addition, the title of each event is linked to the Web site providing further information about the event, thus making it easy for a viewer to move to the relevant Web site and get more information about the event. The Web site also lists the cut off dates for submission of abstracts for various, regularly published journals.
Scholars engaged in information management work will find this Web site useful for identifying fellow scholars with similar interests, and for identifying forthcoming conferences, seminars and symposia that would be of interest to them. They could also use the site to let potential postgraduate students know of the research topics available for research under their supervision. Other library professionals would find the site useful for obtaining contact information on scholars, and for keeping themselves up to date with events to be held at various locations around the world.
The site was set up only recently, but in the last four months over 400 scholars have published their profiles through this site. The Web managers would welcome any suggestions for improvement of the site. Suggestions should be sent by e-mail to: <email@example.com>
In the Web site's definition, "scholars" include everyone involved in research and/or academic work from professors who have published hundreds of learned articles to junior lecturers and research assistants who have just completed a thesis to obtain a postgraduate degree.