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Discussion Lists

Discussion lists (Listservs TM) are interactive lists in which members or anyone (depending on the level of moderator control) may post e-mails. The benefit of an interactive list is that you can ask questions when you need advice from others with similar interests; the disadvantage is that the volume of e-mail posting may be large. When you join an e-mail discussion list, the default is to receive each posting separately, which may be useful if you anticipate wanting to respond to messages or need to see messages as they are posted. Some lists offer the option of subscribing to a once-a-day digest format that reduces the volume of e-mail you receive. The time-cost-benefit analysis for discussion lists is important. Sign on to observe a list for a week or look at a period of time in the archives. Consider the percentage of the messages that were on target or potentially valuable to you. If you work for government organizations, there may be restrictions against actively participating in advocacy work. If your institution has restrictions and you plan to subscribe or post to advocacy lists, you may want to use a personal e-mail address.

Example resources:

Take some time to explore the following resources.

Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce: Discussion & E-mail Lists
A mix of links to discussion lists on a variety of topics hosted by APHA, CDC, FDA, PHF and others.

Environmental Protection Agency Mailing Lists from the EPA.

ProMED-mail (Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases, International Society for Infectious Diseases) The global electronic reporting system for outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases & toxins, open to all sources.


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