July 18, 2008

Electronic journal access found to reduce breadth of citations

Noting an article of interest:

Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship

Science 18 July 2008:
Vol. 321. no. 5887, pp. 395 – 399
DOI: 10.1126/science.1150473

James Evans finds that scholars’ access to online journals tends to reduce the breadth of the citations to other articles in their work; that is, articles outside of the sources to which they have electronic access tend to be left out when they wouldn’t otherwise be. This is logical and something that many have suspected, but there’s nothing like data…

Thanks to Fred Stoss for sending the link to multiple lists, after it was written up in The Chronicle of Higher Education today.

One answer: good scholars should have the discipline to go beyond the most convenient information sources. Another answer: bring everything into the electronic fold. I suspect that it’s the second course of action that will continue to be pursued; then, before long, it will be advertised as a completed job. We’ll be told that everything relevant is online and there’s no need to go outside the interface, and that if it’s not in the interface there’s a good reason for it. The interface itself will become the de facto quality filter, though it will be economic factors (pay to play) rather than editorial ones that primarily determine who is in and who is out of the fold…

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