Munich Personal RePEc Archive

On the integration of the Internet into informal science communication

Barjak, Franz (2004): On the integration of the Internet into informal science communication.

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The present analysis looks at how scientists use the Internet for informal scientific communication. It investigates the relationship between several explanatory variables and Internet use for social communication, information retrieval and information dissemination in a cross-section of scientists from seven European countries and five academic disciplines (astronomy, chemistry, computer science, economics, and psychology). The analysis confirmed some of the results of previous US-based analyses. In particular, it corroborated a positive relationship between scientific productivity and Internet use. Furthermore, the relationship was found to be non-linear, with very productive (non-productive) scientists using the Internet less (more) than would be expected according to their productivity. Also, being involved in collaborative R&D and having large networks of collaborators is associated with increased Internet use, again with a non-linear relationship for the latter variable. In contrast to older studies, the analysis did not find an equalizing effect of higher Internet use rates for potentially disadvantaged researchers. Obviously, everybody who wants to stay at the forefront of research and keep up-to-date with developments in their research fields has to use the Internet. This also applies to renowned academics who are very well integrated into invisible colleges, and to social scientists – in our analysis economists and psychologists – who do not have lower usage rates than their peers from the natural sciences when it comes to the most common tools such as e-mail and the World Wide Web.

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