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Communication platform for researchers

SciLife is a new, virtual presentation and communication platform for scientific topics and the scientific community. The platform was launched in April 2008 and is now also available free of charge to researchers who want to increase networking activities and who are looking for equipment and researchers.

SciLife Logo
Researchers will rarely have all the required know-how and equipment available in their own research group and will therefore have to spend a lot of time looking for information.

The new Internet platform, SciLife, now enables the research community to connect and profit from interdisciplinarity in an easy-to-use way. It is structured in the same way as StudiVZ or Xing and offers a virtual platform for registered members who can easily set up profiles, add contacts, establish groups or become part of already existing groups. The platform also comes with the usual search functions, messaging, discussion groups, blogs and forums. Navigation is easy and self-explanatory. The platform is aimed at the international research community and hence is in English.

More effective contact between researchers

Search results can also be represented in maps. (Photo: SciLife)
SciLife gives scientists the possibility to find out within a very short time whether the sought-after (expensive) piece of equipment is available in another building of the campus and has free capacity available, or whether there are other researchers successfully working with the method the own research groups plans to establish.

In order to search for equipment and cooperation partners, interested researchers can publish their profile in the SciLife platform, providing information on their own research activities as well as a collection of keywords such as DNA, RNAi, Drosophila or simply biochemistry. Access to laboratory equipment is provided under “resources”.

The principle works for individuals as well as for entire work groups. Searching for “DNA” will retrieve individuals as well as entire work groups working with DNA, a bioanalyser in Heidelberg as well as publications. Individuals that are new to a particular topic, will easily be able to access suitable networks. The scientists can also use the platform for an overview of a particular research site, for example “Heidelberg”.

Award from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology

Example of a SciLife member's profile (Photo: SciLife)
The connection between individual profiles will over time lead to a virtual research network and a realistic picture of the research landscape. Up-to-date information will be available for all members and enable them to communicate with each other and engage in research cooperations. The developers of the platform have another ambitious goal. The SciLife members can, if they choose, set up something resembling a scientific business card, including a CV, a short profile of their research activities and of course a list of own publications. This will give members access to useful information when looking for jobs, and enable companies to find highly-qualified staff.
The ambitious project was initiated by an interdisciplinary team of life scientists and computer scientists from Heidelberg, Lausanne and Dresden who have experienced how important it is to constantly exchange information rather than occasionally meeting at conferences. The researchers’ commitment has already been recognised through an award at CeBit 2008, where their concept of the integrated presentation and communication platform received the ”Successful start with multimedia” start-up prize from the German Federal Ministry of Economics.

Felix Röser, one of the SciLife initiators, is convinced that the platform will also receive financial support in future. ”Apart from private individuals and public research institutions who can use SciLife free of charge, the developers provide for the possibility of companies presenting their services and profiles. Further financing is expected from targeted promotion.”
Kai Uhrig, Aaron Lindner, Babak Hosseini, Felix Röser (from left to right) received the “Multimedia Start-up” award at CeBit 2008 (Photo: VDI/ VDE)
Kai Uhrig, Aaron Lindner, Babak Hosseini, Felix Röser (from left to right) received the “Multimedia Start-up” award at CeBit 2008 (Photo: VDI/ VDE)

SciLife, which went online in April 2008 and has been providing free access since July 2008, currently has 300 members. Many work groups have been included in the database, but information on individual members is still lacking. The success of the project clearly depends on the initial start-up phase and the ability to attract a high enough number of users. The platform will only be able to become a useful and current source of information if enough scientists post their profile and maintain and update it over time.

Since 31. July 2008, SciLife has opened its gates to the research community. This means in particular: It will no longer be necessary to log onto SciLife to view basic profiles of users, groups and resources. This way, profiles are visible to search engines like google. The access to personal information can be restricted to a certain group of people by the user.

Source: Newsletter SciLife- 31.07.2008

Website address: https://www.gesundheitsindustrie-bw.de/en/article/news/communication-platform-for-researchers