Dental informatics (Dl) is the application of computer and information science to improve dental practice, research, education and program administration. As an emerging discipline, it is crucial for enabling advances in dental research, practice and education. While Dl provides significant opportunities for improving processes and outcomes, current evidence indicates that those opportunities are not exploited to their full extent. The main reasons for this are (1) the small number of experienced Dl researchers; (2) the limited visibility of Dl projects; (3) the wide dispersion of the Dl research community; and (4) the absence of an open and worldwide forum for individuals interested in Dl. The goal of this project is to develop a virtual, global community for dental informaticians. We are building on our previous achievements in integrating informatics into the fabric of dental and craniofacial research. The NIDCR/NLM sponsored 2003 conference, Dental Informatics and Dental Research-Making the Connection"""""""", was a precursor to the proposed project in both its objectives and outcomes. The Online Community will provide a networking platform for people ? interested in Dl in order to promote the development of dental information resources, disseminate research results and encourage the formation of research and education partnerships. To achieve these goals, we propose the following specific aims: 1. Compile detailed requirements for the Dl Online Community based on an assessment of information needs of dental informaticians, researchers, educators and clinicians. 2. Implement the Dl Online Community targeting the following three audiences: (a) researchers focused on Dl who need to coordinate efforts and exchange best practices; (b) researchers from related disciplines, e.g. medical informatics, who need to find research partners and want to share information and resources; (c) non-informaticians, mainly dental and craniofacial researchers, educators and clinicians, who need informatics support for their research; (d) dental industry partners with interest in Dl who develop clinical and research tools and technology; and (e) the library and information sciences community and 3. Evaluate the Dl Online Community and its impact on Dl researchers using archival data and survey data. ? ?
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