Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Research on research

With dedicated mid-winter (yes this is Southern hemisphere) research time on the topic of natural resource use and sustainable municipal services provision, one thing that did suffer was the blog. Despite not reading as much as usually, one bit of news from the Futurist did catch my eye:  


New research about research shows that, despite growing access to scholarly papers online, fewer publications are being cited. The result could be a shallower marketplace of ideas.

University of Chicago sociology professor James Evans reports that the Internet gives researchers instant access to a wealth of information in academic journals, but most citations are limited to more-recent articles appearing in the most-prominent journals. The result may be that only a few new ideas get picked up and others fade away before they are properly evaluated.

Online search tools like Google factor in the frequency of hits on individual sites, putting the most-popular pages at the top of search results. Searchers who hit those sites and include the links in their own research thus perpetuate their popularity.

“With science and scholarship increasing online, findings and ideas that don’t receive attention very soon will be forgotten more quickly than ever before,” warns Evans.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation,

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