24 Jan 2013

Research Project on Trust and Authority in Scholarly Communications

I am currently working on a research project with CIBER Research UK Ltd and the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee funded by the Alfred. P. Sloan foundation examining how decisions on trust and authority in scholarly communications are being changed (or not) by developments in digital technology.

We are looking at how scholars decide what to trust when searching for information and also how they judge which is the most authoritative place to publish their results. A key question is whether emerging social media channels present any real challenge to the well established high impact factor journal route to academic prestige? This links into previous debate on libfocus on the growth of altmetrics.

In terms of searching for information do academics use Google as freely as we tend to assume their students do or are they relying on their own specialist sources? All these questions are important to libraries as they concern how people make the complex assessment of what defines quality information that they can trust. Changes in where scholars publish will also eventually have an effect on the type of information resources that libraries hold.

The study is international but the qualitative data is being collected from the USA and UK for this phase of the research and I am interviewing academics from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has views or experience on the topics covered by this research project. Please contact me on clare.v.thornley[at]gmail[dot]com.

Further information on this project can be found at utk.edu and ciber-research.eu.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Clare - really interesting idea. From my own experience as a HS librarian, I find researchers tend to still use PubMed as the first port of call, however more often they are trying new sources as well such as Research Gate, Twitter etc. as a channel for discovering information recommended by colleagues.
    I think researchers probably trust their personal network / community on social networks as these are their peers in many cases with a credible 'traditional' publishing background also. As open access venues and repositories continue to grow and extend however, this may change if people switch to publishing scholarly work outside traditional journals for instance. Looking forward to seeing the results of the research.