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Stanford Profiles provides window into university's scholarly community

Stanford created the new website to support faculty and to facilitate their research activities by extending to other schools, institutes and administrative units on campus the Community Academic Profiles system that has been available to School of Medicine faculty since 2004.

L.A. Cicero screenshot from Stanford Profiles site

The new Stanford Profiles website features more than 18,000 profiles of faculty, staff, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.

Now that Stanford Profiles is up and running – featuring more than 18,000 profiles of faculty, staff, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars – it's time for the university's academic and professional community to take the new website for a spin.

Visitors can peruse the profiles, which are easily accessible and comprehensive, and search the new website by name or topic. When searching by topic, Stanford Profiles looks at the entire content of someone's profile, including names, courses, journal articles and research projects, and quickly presents the results.

Stanford initiated the pilot project to support faculty and to facilitate their research activities by extending the Community Academic Profiles (CAP) Network, which has been available to School of Medicine faculty since 2004, to other schools, institutes and administrative units.

Each faculty entry in Stanford Profiles presents a brief description of research interests, publications, courses taught, the names of postdoctoral advisees and the doctoral programs the faculty member is associated with as a PhD adviser.

Every day, under a system developed by Stanford University Libraries, new publications of faculty, students, postdocs and staff are "exported" to the CAP Network, where the citations and other relevant data are displayed in the profile owner's inbox for review. Once an individual has approved a publication, it will appear on his or her profile.

Members of the Stanford community approve all of the information that appears in the public view of their Stanford Profiles, and can edit or update their profiles when needed. They also can explore the site's private and secure social network, which allows them to join and create groups for private discussions, post updates and share files, follow others and comment on their posts, and invite other Stanford colleagues to collaborate within Stanford Profiles.

"The new Profiles website offers a more seamless integration with the other resources and databases across the university, and it is easy to see that in the long run it will save us much time," said Kenneth Goodson, the Robert Bosch Chairman of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. "Faculty in my department welcomed this development at a recent meeting and provided ideas for further improvement."

Ann Arvin, vice provost and dean of research at Stanford, said she hopes that Stanford Profiles will "facilitate faculty research and scholarship by enhancing awareness of our individual research programs among Stanford faculty colleagues, and offer a resource leading to new interdisciplinary collaborations."

She said undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs can use Stanford Profiles to find faculty mentors whose research is of most interest to them.

"And, for the first time, Stanford Profiles will make it possible for our talented staff to share information about their expertise and interests with others at Stanford and beyond," said Arvin, who is also the Lucile Salter Packard Professor in Pediatrics. "Finally, the website is searchable by the public, which will make the work of our faculty and their trainees more readily available and help to ensure the broader impact of the groundbreaking research done at Stanford."

Visitors to Stanford Profiles can easily print or email profiles by clicking on icons on the first page of a profile.

Arvin said Stanford University Libraries (SUL) made a major contribution to the project with the technology that automatically downloads citations to the CAP Network system.

Michael Keller, the Ida M. Green University Librarian, said Stanford Profiles will benefit Stanford's increasingly diverse community of "deeply involved" scholars and students.

"The utility of making public the records of our academic careers in order to facilitate more collaboration internally and elsewhere, and to make identifying possible instructors and intellectual mentors for students more easy is obvious," Keller said. "SUL's knowledge management capacities and systems serves Stanford Profiles well now; we look to more developments in this program over time."

Learning about extraordinary achievements in the Stanford community

Under the pilot project, the development team created academic and professional profiles for faculty, staff and graduate students in the schools of Earth Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and in several Stanford institutes and administrative units. Profiles also were created for all postdoctoral scholars.

Academic profiles of faculty members and postdocs have been publicly accessible since Jan. 30, when Stanford launched the new website. Profiles for graduate students and staff who had previously selected the "public" setting also are accessible.

The current version of Stanford Profiles includes academic and professional profiles for people in Bio-X, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, the Precourt Institute for Energy, the Stanford Neurosciences Institute and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, and for people in Stanford University Libraries, the Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Research, Student Affairs, Public Affairs and Business Affairs.

Stanford faculty, trainees and staff from other schools and offices will continue to be added as the site expands.

Michael Halaas, chief information office for the School of Medicine, said Stanford Profiles represents the professional work done by a community of truly remarkable individuals.

"The profiles provide a chance for people both inside and outside Stanford to learn about the extraordinary achievements of these people, and discover connection points for collaborations or other interactions," he said.

"New graduate students could turn to Stanford Profiles to help them find faculty mentors. Stanford Medical Center patients could explore the profiles to learn about the clinical research projects of their doctors and care teams."

Currently, Stanford Profiles has more than 18,000 profiles including more than 3,200 faculty, 5,400 graduate students, 2,100 postdocs and 7,300 staff members.

The CAP Stanford Working Group oversaw the development of Stanford Profiles. It was a collaborative effort of the schools, institutes and units that participated in the initial release, as well as other schools and organizations that will soon be included on the site.

In addition to Arvin, Provost John Etchemendy and Stanford's Systems Governance Group – which funds campus technology initiatives – provided support for the Profiles project.

Staff and new graduate students can switch their profiles from the "Stanford-Only" default setting to the public version by selecting the "sign in" option on the website and following the instructions for choosing the "public" setting. Or, they can choose to selectively share information within Stanford or with the public – which are the options open to everyone in the system.

The first training session on creating and revising profiles in Stanford Profiles will be held from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, in Room 232 in the Spilker Engineering and Applied Sciences Building at the School of Engineering. The session is limited to 25 people. To find out more, contact Tina Del Cont, CAP Project coordinator, at tdelcont@stanford.edu.