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InfoTrain: An international electronic training journal

Philip Marriott and Michael Brittain
University of South Australia

This presentation is a report and demonstration of the InfoTrain project developed at the University of South Australia in conjunction with various overseas partners. The InfoTrain Journal - an International Electronic Training Journal for Research in Information Management - is an initiative to provide students and staff at various universities throughout the world with opportunities to participate in, learn about, research and develop a fully operational electronic journal. InfoTrain enables students to publish their writings for international review, tap into a rich resource of expertise and knowledge, and engage in scholarly discussion with a rapid response time. Presently, InfoTrain is undergoing preliminary trials at various international sites. It is expected that partners in Britain, Sweden, South Africa and Australia will come online to produce a seamless World Wide Web based journal by early 1995.

After many years of discussion, electronic journals are now beginning to proliferate: for example, eight peer reviewed electronic journals devoted to library and information studies have appeared in the last two years. Much of this activity has occurred in North America, although parallel developments are now occurring in Western Europe, and it is clear that the electronic journal is here to stay. There is considerable uncertainty as to how electronic journals will be handled by the main groups of intermediaries concerned - librarians, information specialists and publishers. It is apparent that an urgent training need exists for both professionals and students in these areas, which has not as yet been addressed.

InfoTrain was initially conceived by Professor Jack Meadows in conjunction with Mr Fytton Rowland and Dr Michael Brittain at Loughborough University of Technology. It is now an international initiative with participation from Strathclyde University, The City University - London, Chalmers University - Sweden, University of Cape Town - South Africa, UCLA, the University of Adelaide, and the University of South Australia.

InfoTrain is intended to be a fully operational electronic journal. Thus students and staff may play the role of author, editor, referee, system administrator, and reader. They will be able to explore these roles in a controlled environment that encourages experimentation without many of the constraints faced by existing professional electronic journals.

Staff, postgraduate, and senior undergraduate students will provide the majority of source material for the journal. They will also provide content oriented editing and refereeing functions. Undergraduate students will provide non-content editing and layout services, perform system administration, submit literature reviews, and locate material from other sources for inclusion.

InfoTrain will supply staff and students with opportunities to conduct research into the operation of an Electronic Journal. Areas such as copyright, archiving, dissemination. peer review, coordination, and those currently unknown. may be investigated using primary research data.

South Australia currently leads the other countries in the planning and implementation of the InfoTrain Journal. During semester one. 1994, the policy and technical requirements of a prototype InfoTrain Journal were formulated by a steering committee of academics led by Prof Michael Brittain and coordinated by Mr Philip Marriott. In semester two 1994 the first group of undergraduates will use the journal as part of their coursework. In addition to providing source material these students from the School of Communication and Information Studies at the University of South Australia will experience acquiring, archiving, and dissemination functions of an electronic journal.

Postgraduate students in the area of Information Management from the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia and their supervisors will be encouraged to provide source material for Volume One of InfoTrain. Initially the Steering Committee will provide editing, refereeing, and some system administration functions. However these functions will be passed on to academic staff and students as expertise grows.

The Centre for University Teaching and Learning at the University of South Australia have offered the use of their Information Server for the first six months of InfoTrain operation. Staff at the Department of Commerce at the University of Adelaide will use this six month lead in to develop their own information server to a level sufficient to operate InfoTrain in 1995.

Experiences gained in semester two, 1994, will be disseminated to the overseas partners and will most likely form the basis of the specifications for the global InfoTrain Journal once all the partners are online. Thus we, in South Australia, will have the opportunity to be world leaders in an initiative that can only grow in importance as the world moves from paper based to electronic publishing.

Authors: Philip Marriott and Professor Michael Brittain, School of Communication and Information Studies, University of South Australia, Magill Campus, South Australia, 5072. Phone: +61 8302 4742; Email:; Website:

Please cite as: Marriott, P. and Brittain, M. (1994). InfoTrain: An international electronic training journal. In J. Steele and J. G. Hedberg (eds), Learning Environment Technology: Selected papers from LETA 94, 161-162. Canberra: AJET Publications.

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