It turns out that despite all the uses the general public has found for social media tools like twitter, youtube, etc, physical scientists by and large- don’t use these tools. According to the UK’s Research Information Network, the Royal Astronomical Society and the Institute of Physics, even though researchers in this area have long used computer technology, they are reluctant to adopt new online tools into their workflow.
I can hear the new technology loving physical scientists around the world reading this in disgust. Not taking too kindly to findings that resulted from interviews with 51 researchers and focus-group sessions with 35 participants in seven different fields. Most described blogs, public-wiki’s, and social networks, as distractions from their work. Though private-closed wiki’s are known to be seen more favorably among particle physicists and astrophysicists. In fact, within these same two groups only around 10% report using a service like Google Scholar to find new research. A far inferior number to the 73% of Earth scientists and 70% of nanoscientists. Even online journals are not universally read by all physical scientists! (though most say they do)
The authors of the report, Collaborative Yet Independent, explain their findings by pointing out that many researchers in physical sciences learned their tools and work habits in their university lab days. They usually only learn new techniques if a project demands it, not if there are simply new options or ways of sharing information “out there” on the internet.
Source: Physics World
Eric T. Meyer, Monica Bulger, Avgousta Kyriakidou-Zacharoudiou, Lucy Power, Peter Williams, Will Venters, Melissa Terras, & Sally Wyatt (2011). Collaborative yet independent: Information practices in the physical sciences IOP Publishing.
Photo: Jonny Goldstein / flickr