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Informationsdienst Wissenschaft e.V. or idw (The Science Information Service) operates an Internet platform, which bundles the press reports and dates of important events from about 700 scientific institutions, including universities, technical colleges, governmental and non-governmental research institutes and institutes to support research or scientific administration. idw (a registered charitable society) also operates an expert broker, the idw expert finder, which is exclusively for journalists. This makes idw one of the most comprehensive sources of science news in the German speaking area. Foreign journalists and institutions (mostly European) now use idw as well.
The two main objectives of idw are:
- To provide the public with a comprehensive picture of science in the German speaking area.
- To create a close network between the linked (research) institutions.
The information in idw can be accessed free of charge - either directly on idw’s www pages, or by using an individually configurable RSS feed or as an e-mail subscriber. Any user can request the information covering the topics and regions which interest him. All idw services can be used free of cost - the current news ticker, the science calendar, research in the archive, the link collection "kiosk" and the "address book", the list of institutions linked to idw. idw also provides journalists with instruments for contacting experts. The members' press offices have various possibilities of communicating with journalists. Membership is only offered to German or foreign institutions which perform research or teaching, or which support science or are active in science in some other way. idw is working with the weekly newspaper Die Zeit for some years. idw provides the press reports which are taken over by zeit.de and performs monthly live chats together with www.zeit.de
Idea and Foundation
The original idea of idw was to provide experts for journalists. Using the American ProfNet as example, the press officers of Universitaet Bayreuth, the Ruhr University Bochum and the Clausthal University of Technology, in collaboration with Computing Centre of Clausthal University of Technology/TU Clausthal, developed a concept for a German language network, by means of the new media. The concept was technically implemented by the staff of the Computing Centre of the Clausthal University of Technology. They still program and maintain the idw operating system and are still developing it. The other two idw sites are at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and Bayreuth University and here idw employees are responsible for user services and further development of the content.
Financial Support and Development
The initial phase (1996–1999) was guaranteed by project support from the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). The technical development of the idw was supported by the Ministry, together with the Stifterverband fuer die Deutsche Wissenschaft (Donor Association for German Science). idw has been working closely for years with the initiative Wissenschaft im Dialog (Science in Dialogue). idw has been economically independent since 2000 and is financed by contributions from member institutions. It has been organised as a registered charitable society (gemeinnütziger e. V.) since 2002.
Significance and Scope
idw has developed as a recognised and accepted source for German language science and for science journalism. It has become an instrument for public relations work for scientific institutions. About 37,8500 subscribers (figure for 2008) receive regular reports from idw, including about 8,700 journalists. About 700 institutions publish their press reports and dates of important events via idw.