For the past seven years, SIG/III has been organizing the very successful International Paper Contest. The aim of the International Paper Contest is to give a voice to information professionals from developing nations. It is an opportunity for our colleagues to inform us about their research and initiatives; to tell us about the issues they face and the solutions they adopt. It is also an opportunity for us all to learn from their experiences and to share ideas and expertise.
As of 2006, 323 authors of 270 papers from 51 countries/areas have participated in the International Paper Contest. Each year, six winners are selected by a panel of judges who review the papers based on criteria such as originality, relevance to the theme of the contest, presentation, organization and style.
Each of the six winners is awarded a two-year individual membership in ASIS&T. In addition, depending on SIG/III fundraising, the first place winner is usually rewarded with funding to attend the ASIS&T Annual Conference. This is a wonderful opportunity for our colleagues to interact with the rest of the ASIS&T community and build lasting relationships.
Submitted papers are also considered for posting on the SIG/III web site as pre-publications, as well as for inclusion in a special issue of the International Information and Library Review, subject to the usual peer refereeing process.
The SIG/III Mentorship Program
To build further this network of wonderful scholars and encourage them to remain active in ASIS&T and SIG/III even after the Paper Contest is over, we have recently established the SIG/III Mentorship Program.
The aim of the Mentorship Program is to build closer relationships between Paper Contest participants and more established members of the SIG/III and ASIS&T community. This year, we initiated the program by focusing on the six winners of the 2006 International Paper Contest (depending on the success of this initiative, we may broaden the reach to other Contest participants as well). The mentors are all seasoned ASIS&T members, active SIG members and/or officers.
The idea is to allow the mentor and the contest winner (mentee) to engage in a mutually satisfying relationship and dialogue, to share information and other professional advice, even collaborate on projects. By building on their particular perspectives or areas of expertise, and cultivating mutual respect, both mentors and mentees can benefit from the relationship and create long-lasting relationships.
Disseminating Contestants' Research
There is another purpose for the SIG/III Mentorship Program: to help in disseminating the research of the winning papers of the International Paper Contest. To this effect, the mentors will be asked to assist their mentees, in any way they can, to produce a poster presentation (based on their submitted paper) for inclusion and presentation at the annual ASIS&T meeting.
Obviously, many of the winners are not able to attend the annual meeting for financial or logistical reasons, so it is our hope that through the Mentorship program, we can help in getting their posters and indeed their research presented at the ASIS&T annual meeting, through the efforts of the mentors who can act as the intermediaries between the researchers and the broader ASIS&T community. The mentors can not only provide assistance and guidance with the production of the poster but also with making sure the poster makes its way to the annual meeting (e.g., mounting the poster of the mentee, or if the mentor cannot come to the conference, finding someone else to set up the poster at the annual meeting). Here is a list of resources on how to design effective posters.
Using the new SIG III Blog
The Mentorship Program will make use of the SIG/III Blog to enable mentors and mentees to communicate and share ideas and experiences with other mentors/mentees. The blog is an easy-to-use forum to facilitate exchange about current research, developments in various areas of common interest, social and professional networking, as well as sharing ideas about poster presentations. The blog will be a good complement to the current SIG/III listserv. The blog can be accessed here.
It is our hope that both mentors and mentees find the Mentorship Program useful and beneficial to your professional goals.
If you are interested in participating in the Mentorship Program (as a Mentor or as a Mentee), please feel free to contact Nadia Caidi (nadia.caidi [at] utoronto.ca) for more information about this program or how you can help.
We look forward to a fruitful collaboration!
Chair of SIG/III, 2005-2006