TITLE: Communication Institute for Online Scholarship

ACCESS: http://www.cios.org

Communication scholars will be pleased to know about the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship (CIOS) and its Comserve WWW service. As a non-profit organization directed by Timothy Stephen and Teresa M. Harrison, associate professors of communication at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Comserve has been online since 1986. CIOS, its parent organization since 1990, also produces the ComIndex CD-ROM database. Both services have been awarded the "Prize for Excellence in Information Services" from the International Communication Association's Council of Communication Libraries. Designed to enhance scholarly activity among its community, the WWW site provides a conduit to its online conferences, bibliographies, syllabi, events calendar, position announcements and an index to its 60 plus journals as well as providing an electronic white pages for its members.

The online conferences are called Hotlines, and they include such specialized lists as CommGrads for graduate students, Edutel for computer mediated communication research, as well as lists for pro forma topics including gender, intercultural communication and mass communication. Broad based lists include CommJobs, NewBooks and Preview, which broadcasts announcements of new scholarly work. The Intercom hotline is automatic for all subscribers; it posts general announcements such as updates to the service and calls for papers. A restricted list of these conferences may be joined by nonmembers without a fee.

Another feature of CIOS is its Syllabus collection, organized by date, which covers such diverse topics as Magazines in American Life and Computer, Ethics, and Society. However, the majority of these are from 1994 and earlier, with only 2 from 1996; one only wishes that more were available. The Bibliographies collection as well as the Description of Graduate Programs are also in dire need of updating.

Many journals are indexed from their initial issue; the earliest is _The Free Speech Yearbook_ from 1962. Others include CIOS' refereed, full text _Electronic Journal of Communication_; the _Asian Journal of Communication_; _Communication Yearbook_; _Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media_; _Media, Culture and Society_; and _Women's Studies in Communication_. Currently, most journals are completed through 1995; some are also indexed through 1996. Journal citations can include abstracts, affiliation of the first author, as well as keywords indexed. In addition there is an option to search by table of contents for selected journals.

Perhaps the most valuable feature is the ability to do a full text search of all of Comserve's databases. However, a search for the word "mentor" yielded almost too many hits, including not only a transcript of a speech of the Dalai Lama, but also an analysis of Nixon's "Checkers" speech; more worthwhile was a survey about on-line mentoring. All these hits were generated from the Hotlines. More efficient ways to search are the keyword and context searching options, which results in a display of several lines before and after the word searched. Boolean searching is also available through the operators AND OR NOT XOR and EXCEPT; "near", wild card and truncation are also options.

This ability to search specifically in the Communication discipline outweighs the cost when compared to comparable paper indexes such as Communication Abstracts, which allows only single subject indexing and no cross referencing. Per annum cost for individuals is $45; the student rate is $25 with limited services. Institutional memberships range from $200 for the basic service to $500 for the advanced, multi-user service, all of which include discounts for purchase of the ComIndex CD-Rom database.

Currently, there are 75 institutional affiliates worldwide; libraries may want to check to see if their Communication faculty have signed up for the service. If they have, it is worthwhile to publicize it and make it available in-house for their users. If not, libraries who have a Communication Department as their constituency should strongly consider providing access to CIOS in collaboration with their faculty.

Marie Monteagudo
Internet Consultant, Virginia Beach, VA
oasisnet@concentric.net


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