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A new online service from the MIT Press will allow brain and cognitive scientists around the world to search for journal articles and books, update their CVs, find new jobs, read editorials about the latest advances in the field, check for upcoming lectures and add their two cents to discussions among colleagues, all at one web location.
Calling the initiative "a unique, dynamic and interactive global forum," the MIT Press created CogNet as a central repository for electronic resources in cognitive and brain sciences, said Jeremy Grainger, electronic marketing manager for the MIT Press.
Students, scholars and researchers in artificial intelligence, learning, linguistics, neuroscience, psychology, media studies and other related fields can use Cognet to bypass "slow and expensive efforts in the commercial publishing world," said Terrence J. Sejnowski, professor of biology at the Salk Institute at the University of California at San Diego. He called Cognet "a new model for how scientific publishing will look in the next century."
Among Cognet's services available to the cognitive and brain sciences community are:
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ a searchable, full-text library with a growing collection of books, journals and reference works
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ an academic almanac of cognitive science programs
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ editorials by scientists on groundbreaking or controversial aspects of new research
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ job listings, candidate profiles and other career information
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ publisher collections
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ CV and bibliography utilities
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ virtual poster sessions
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ threaded discussion groups
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ a seminar manager with information about current seminars and lecture series at participating academic institutions
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ community member profiles.
"The launch of CogNet is a significant event for the MIT Press and for the Institute," Mr. Grainger said. "This online community has been in prototype development for a couple of years and was launched as a trial model at the Cognitive Science Society's annual meeting in 1999.
"Since then, more than 10,000 individuals have signed up -- this in a scholarly universe estimated to be no more than 20,000 people worldwide," he said.
"Clearly, digital access to scholarly resources will increase the speed, scope and usefulness of everything that scientists and scholars do. MIT CogNet represents the best of these opportunities," said Steven Pinker, the Peter de Florez Professor of Psychology and director of the Center for Cognitive Neurosciences.
A library site-licensed edition was launched at the American Library Association meeting this summer and is now being tested at more than 40 universities world wide, including MIT. Site licenses have been ordered by five major universities and by the entire University of Califonia system.
"The MIT CogNet project is an entirely new approach to meeting the communication needs of a scholarly community," said Ann J. Wolpert, director of libraries at MIT. "In one clearly organized web site, a scholar in the cognitive sciences can find peer-reviewed articles, the definitive reference source, conference proceedings, announcements and collegial interchange."
A guided tour -- 14 annotated screens providing an overview of the various modules, including the Library, the Forum, HotScience, Jobs Listings, Member Profiles, Seminar Series, Calls for Papers and the member Workspace -- is available at the site.
The service, scheduled to be officially up and running October 1, costs $60 per year or $30 for students and retirees for a basic individual subscription. A premium individual subscription is $240 per year or $120 for students and retirees.
MIT CogNet is the first of several online communities being planned here. A community in development for architects in the developing and Islamic world, archnet.org, and two others are in the works.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 27, 2000.