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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Research opportunities offered

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 02 - August 31, 1995

Under increasing pressure to fund their research and support their students, researchers often don't learn about funding opportunities soon enough to allow adequate time for proposal preparation. To address this problem, the Research Opportunities Office (ROO) has implemented an electronic bulletin board with convenient access to sources of sponsor and program information.

To reduce printing and mailing costs, sponsors are turning to electronic means to disseminate information. Eighteen months ago, many federal agencies created gopher sites on which files about their organizations and programs could be posted. The last six months have seen a dramatic proliferation of World Wide Web sites, in both the private and public sectors, to deliver such information. Because of its Ethernet network, Virginia Tech is better equipped than other universities to access such information resources.

The web pages and listserver of the Research Opportunities Office Information System were designed and developed by Wendy Farkas, ROO director, who also posts information, maintains the pages, and administers the list.

According to Farkas, announcements about new funding opportunities, release of new editions of the ARIS funding newsletters, and alerts to forms and policy changes are posted to the "What's New in the ROO" electronic bulletin board. Information is broadcast weekly via a web page and automatic e-mail delivery. Hypertext in the web page bulletins links readers to full-text announcements, such as the Federal Register or Commerce Business Daily, proposal solicitations, or to sponsor sites for detailed information. Once located, the material may be printed, saved to disk, or e-mailed.

The rest of the ROO web pages have a number of unique and useful features: links to sponsor and program information (arranged in an alphabetical index as well as by sponsor in the bulletin index); links to database and newsletter resources; deadlines lists; forms templates; and other resources to assist student and faculty researchers, such as proposal writing guides and models, help files on designing database searches, etc. Farkas says that while most of the material is in the public domain, nowhere is the access to it specifically arranged for the convenience of researchers and administrators.

In addition to the web pages, Farkas established the ROO List, a distribution list designed to inform Virginia Tech subscribers about research opportunities via e-mail. Mailings consist of the newsletter text that is posted to "What's New in the ROO" web page. This list is for distribution only; it is a bulletin rather than a forum. One can subscribe (join the distribution list) or unsubscribe at any time.

To access the ROO web pages, you must have an Ethernet or high-speed modem connection and web-browser software such as the latest version of Netscape or Mosaic (a version that supports forms and tables is preferred). The software is free and available for several operating systems. Load the URL http://wendy.research.vt.edu and set a bookmark to conveniently return in future sessions to the ROO Home Page.

To subscribe to the ROO List, use the convenient subscription form, http://wendy.research.vt.edu/FILES/FORMS/subsc_form OR send an e-mail message to majordomo@gserver.grads.vt.edu. Leave the subject line blank. The body of the message should contain the line: subscribe ROO userid (fn ln; dept). Example: subscribe ROO jdoe@vt.edu (Jane Doe; Electrical Engineering). Note that this command format differs from other lists you may have joined. Be sure there is a space between your userid and the first parenthesis. Do not include a signature in the message.

Since not everyone uses a computer, or has an Ethernet connection, Farkas will continue to offer consultations, training workshops, and customized department presentations to help clients identify and target sponsors, with or without the use of these electronic resources.

"Information is the key," she says. "I will continue to find ways to help our community get the information it needs in an efficient and timely manner."

She invites comments on the ROO system so that she can refine it to best accommodate user needs. Call 1-9353 or e-mail wfarkas@vt.edu.