A colleague down the hall passes along an article he feels would be of interest. A reviewer notes a relevant paper that the author has missed. A student reads a post on an Internet chat group that starts her thinking of a new interpretation for her research.
The term "invisible college" has been used widely to describe informal but systematic ways like these that scientists arrange in order to stay in contact with colleagues who are working on similar problems. In the past, the lines of communication occurred primarily one-on-one, but with the advent of the Internet, they now are also maintained through a newsgroup or a computerized mailing list management program (technically a "listserv" but often anglicized to "listserve"). Anyone can join most such mailing lists or newsgroups by sending a simple command to their host computer. Special topic groups can be found in printed directories, in Internet directories, or by searching the Internet.
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