[open-science] Fwd: Life scientists' information use - one size does not fit all

Jonathan Gray jonathan.gray at okfn.org
Tue Nov 3 13:24:43 UTC 2009

This is interesting!


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Gentleman, Sarah <Sarah.Gentleman at rin.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, Nov 3, 2009 at 12:32 PM
Subject: Life scientists' information use - one size does not fit all
To: RESEARCH-DATAMAN at jiscmail.ac.uk

Life scientists’ information use – one size does not fit all

Report of research patterns in life sciences reveals that researcher
practices diverge from policies promoted by funders and information
service providers

A report by the British Library and the Research Information Network
(RIN) launched today provides unique insight into how information is
used by researchers across life sciences. Undertaken by the University
of Edinburgh’s Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and
Innovation, and the UK Digital Curation Centre and the University of
Edinburgh’s Information Services, the report concludes that
‘one-size-fits-all’ information and data sharing policies are not
achieving scientifically productive and cost-efficient information use
in life sciences.

The report, Patterns of Information Use and Exchange: Case Studies of
Researchers in Life Sciences was developed using an innovative
approach to capture the day-to-day patterns of information use in
seven research teams from a wide range of disciplines, from botany to
clinical neuroscience. The study undertaken over 11 months and
involving 56 participants found that there is a significant gap
between how researchers behave and the policies and strategies of
funders and service providers. This suggests that the attempts to
implement such strategies have had only a limited impact.  Key
findings from the report include:

·         Researchers use informal and trusted sources of advice from
colleagues, rather than institutional service teams, to help identify
information sources and resources

·         The use of social networking tools for scientific research
purposes is far more limited than expected

·         Data and information sharing activities are mainly driven by
needs and benefits perceived as most important by life scientists
rather than ‘top-down’ policies and strategies

·         There are marked differences in the patterns of information
use and exchange between research groups active in different areas of
the life sciences, reinforcing the need to avoid standardised policy

The study used ground-breaking research methods to map information use
in research teams from across the life sciences. This included
specially designed ‘information lab books’ to chart and monitor
individual researcher’s day-to-day information practices.

The report sets out a number of recommendations to funders,
universities and information service providers on how policy and
services can be more aligned with research practice and help UK life
scientists sustain their position at the forefront of world-class

Commenting on the report, Professor Sir Kenneth Calman, Chair of the
National Cancer Research Institute & Chancellor, University of Glasgow
said: “This report is a crucial piece of work and allows us to
understand in more detail the role that information and data play in
contemporary research across the life sciences.  Further, it
demonstrates the gaps that exist between policy and practice and it is
with this in mind that funders, universities and information
professionals should take note of this report and draw on its
recommendations to inform their plans in supporting UK life science
research in the future.”

Dr Eric Fevre, a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellow who
participated in the study, commented: "It is fascinating to see mapped
out how we, as life-scientists, use information resources within our
academic networks, but the report also highlights potentially valuable
tools and technologies that we under-use or ignore completely. It
encourages scientists to think formally about their use of information
in research and thereby increase their efficiency in so doing."

Patterns of Information Use and Exchange: Case Studies in Life
Sciences will be launched at a reception at the British Library on
17th November at 6.30pm.

The report can be downloaded from www.rin.ac.uk/case-studies

 Sarah Gentleman

Communications Officer

Research Information Network

96 Euston Road

London NW1 2DB

telephone: 020 7412 7241

Follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/research_inform

RIN Facebook group

email: sarah.gentleman at rin.ac.uk

website: www.rin.ac.uk

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Jonathan Gray

Community Coordinator
The Open Knowledge Foundation

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