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					Dear Graduate Reps – Remember this summer’s Graduate Cat Rescue ? The drama! The excitement! The controversy! Following this incident, a group of graduate students formed a committee to explore the issues raised during that listserv exchange. We are now pleased to present the product of three months planning: GradForum.
Gradforum is an interactive online resource devoted to graduate students across the disciplines, providing grads with an extensive intellectual community as well as a venue for writing about the graduate experience and other matters of concern, while acting as a gateway to important resources. Gradforum connects grads to one another, to the greater academic community, and to the community at large.

In developing this project we sought to address a range of issues: How can graduate students work together, and to what end? How can we improve graduate student life at Brown? How can graduate students develop academically while interacting with our surrounding community? We envision Gradforum as an interactive, online resource that will serve graduate students in numerous ways. It offers four major features: an E-journal devoted to graduate interests and concerns; an exhaustive Archive of resource links for graduate study; Forums for both academic and non-academic discussions; and graduate Profiles by discipline to foster communication and collaboration between students. At the September 15 GSC meeting, our committee will be presenting this project in greater detail. We ask that you kindly preview the following link in advance of Wednesday’s meeting and direct all questions and comments to our secretary, Daniel Kauwe (dkauwe@brown.edu) http://www.brown.edu/Departments/AFF/gradforum.htm This prototype will give you a sense of our aims and help you visualize the end product. We look forward to your feedback*, The Gradforum Committee Daniel Kauwe, Luying Chen, Meadow Dibble-Dieng, Sheldon Provost, Randall Rose

*If you have comments and/or questions, please read the following notes first. Additional Notes: ARTICLES/FORUMS The site will thoroughly integrate journal articles with forums. Thus articles will be immediately linked to comments, allowing members to instantly discuss issue raised in the articles. To ensure quality we will enforce a hierarchical viewing mode, such that commissioned and edited articles will be viewed at one level, with forum threads (commentary) presented as short links at the bottom of the article. Furthermore, to encourage member participation, article response will be further organized. We will distinguish between article length, in recognition that some grads may wish to generate a lengthy response, while others may want to generate a short comment. Likewise, some grads may prefer to read only short comments, while other grads would like to read all commentary. To accomplish this objective, commentary threads will be sorted by word count. Articles/Forums will also be divided by topical categories. Please see the prototype for an example (Sections). As previously expressed, these sections will contain the articles and forums for a variety of topics. This site is deliberately merging article and forums to obtain a more seamless form of interactive information. However, there will be methods to view the forums or articles alone. This site will solicit and direct a certain amount of article and commentary, but the site will also allow members to produce their own articles in the form of commentary. Again, to ensure quality, there will be a distinction between those articles that are randomly produced by members, and those articles that are expressly commissioned and edited by the site. Articles and forums threads will also incorporate voter ratings to signal items of higher interest. Forums will be moderated and a code of conduct will be strictly enforced (No Flames!). Moderation will take the form of voter moderation and/or site moderators. Reading the articles/forums will not require a membership, but posting will. Pseudonyms will be allowed, but a valid email address will be required (to prevent abuse of voter moderation systems). Therefore those who wish to interact with the majority of the site will need to create a minimal profile consisting of valid email address, username, and password. We will have a strict privacy policy visible for all members, and we will not disclose personal information to ANY other party. Administrators will never post email addresses for public viewing. A valid username will allow members access to all aspects of the site. The site can be accessed without a username, but individuals will only be able to read (not post), furthermore the profile section cannot be accessed without a username.

Usernames will also allow us to archive commentary and articles by user, thus for example, if you are viewing a thread or article posted by an individual you can then click on the username to see all articles and treads posted by that particular user. Finally, we will designate a specific section for debate (see prototype: Controversia). This section will be largely unmoderated as we hope that members will speak their minds freely. That said, the code of conduct will still have bearing and a certain level of hateful commentary will not be tolerated (i.e. flames). RESOURCES Resources will mostly be in the form of comprehensive links that are organized by field. Please see the prototype for an example (Resources by Field). These resources will be organized systematically by main categorical headings, and then broken into subcategories that will then in turn contain a collection of links. These links will also be organized chronologically, so that one can see links applicable to prospective grad students, first years, second years..etc., and post graduate students (i.e. job opportunities, etc.). The disciplinary categories will be administered by volunteers from each field (2-3 people). These people will be responsible for compiling, editing, and maintaining the collection of links for their field. The Gradforums leaders will delegate this responsibility but we will not be responsible for the ultimate collection. We will actively seek volunteers, but editorial content will be largely determined by moderators from each discipline. PROFILES Profiles will be organized by discipline. They will essentially be a hybridized version of Friendster and blogs. Thus profiles will contain fields for “Discipline,” “Academic Interests,” “Non-academic interests,” a pic, and a personal statement/blog. The personal statement/blog section would allow free text/HTML entry, and thus members could conceivably link to other personal blogs/websites. A system of trackback links will allow people to cross-reference to other members that share similar interests. Through this system, we hope the profiles will foster collaboration and discussion. For example, members can search for other members that share a particular interest and then use trackback links of internal messaging to establish contact. To ensure privacy, profiles will be limited to viewing by members only. Also, given that this project has the potential to expand beyond Brown, members will have the option of limiting viewing to their local community versus all members (i.e. world wide)


				
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