A study of research patterns in life scientists found that (duh) they all have different patterns of accessing information. Of course we knew this, or at least suspected it, but I can’t help but be pleased that the British Library found space for this news on its Press Room page. It shores up the notion that libraries and ‘resource centres’ need to be flexible with different users.
“Researchers use informal and trusted sources of advice from colleagues, rather than institutional service teams, to help identify information sources.” Yes they do-another reason why perhaps an information professional must inject themselves into the teams with which they work, rather than sideline themselves. Depending on how an organisation is set up, this can be quite natural and easy (if one’s desk is ‘integrated’ into the team area, for example, as proximity tends to predict positive regard) or difficult, if the information team is isolated or in a ‘bricks and mortar’ library away from the clients.
I thought it interesting that the report highlighted that social networking tools (blogs, podcasts, social bookmarking, etc) had not proven terribly appealing to life scientists. The full report elaborates that, firstly, “there is not the critical mass of individuals using such services to make it worthwhile” to use them to “enhance research”. Secondly, and I almost choked while reading this, “the time required in order to become a proficient user is prohibitive.” Don’t give me that. These are highly trained people who, as it says in the next sentence, may use “grid technologies” and “an intricate array of analytical tools” in their day to day work.
What do you think about the ‘not enough time’ to learn simple, user friendly web-based software argument?
I really think that the report should have written: “the scientists can’t be bothered with this social networking stuff because of general complacency and then notion that Twitter and the like will only be around for a few years before we get something new, so, again, why bother?”
Nor is this attitude unique to the life sciences. I know someone very influential, at a Canadian charity, who is crying out to use Twitter for fundraising and marketing. But she is sadly also ‘too busy’.
In other news, the “Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has acknowledged that social media has contributed significantly to the income it has raised for its current appeal. In the first week of the DEC’s appeal for Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, over £3 million was donated,” mainly via the BBC website, Twitter and Facebook.
A spokesperson from the DEC said “the biggest risk we faced was not that we might make a mistake [with using Twitter], it was that we would miss a chance to help save more lives.”
Check out #casestudieslife on Twitter to contribute to the discussion about how researchers use and access information (or not!).