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U Bedfordshire Building Researcher Repository with Social Networking

Technology experts at the University of Bedfordshire in the United Kingdom are launching a site specifically for academics that will act as a research repository with social networking features. The site is being pitched as a specialized "Facebook meets LinkedIn." The project, "Dr. Inventor," received $3.5 million in funding from the European Commission.

The idea is to provide faculty members and other scholars with a platform for "exchanging research experience, transfer knowledge and explore research information," said Feng Dong, a professor of visual computing who's also leading the project. "Users will be able to interact with one another and display information on their profiles such as research interests and previous places of work."

"Intelligent tools" will help participants generate their Dr. Inventor profiles automatically through an indexing of their online publications, projects, career and employment history, and their colleagues. They'll also be able to follow other researchers' profiles and stay current with the researchers they've "friended."

The service will include tools to help with literature reviews, by highlighting keywords and key paragraphs, for example, to provide summarized documents.

The initial version of the program, which is expected to begin in the new year, will target people in the field of computer graphics. If that pilot effort succeeds, the commission is expected to fund an expanded edition that will address other disciplines.

Other partners include universities, research institutions, and search engine marketing companies in Europe.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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