Richard Price, a research fellow at the University of Oxford’s All Souls College, is blasting an e-mail plea to every academic mailing list and blog that he can find asking academics to sign up for his new online directory of researchers worldwide. His goal is to create an online guide to who’s doing what, and where, so scholars can share information and collaborate.
So far, Mr. Price says, about 2,300 researchers from about 15 disciplines have set up profiles on the site. He says the service was born out of his own frustration finding peers to talk to while he was finishing his dissertation on philosophy and human perception. “I couldn’t find anyone else in the world who was really working on it,” he says. It was only after three years that he finally bumped into someone at an academic conference with similar research interests.
It’s too soon to tell whether any of these sites will catch on, and it seems that the services will only become valuable if a critical mass of researchers join in. The final winner may be Facebook itself, which an increasing number of scholars are using for professional networking. —Jeffrey R. Young