Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship

As more journals become available on line, scientists are tending to cite fewer journals and articles, and more recent articles, according to an article in Science (18 July 2008; Vol. 321. no. 5887, pp. 395 – 399; DOI: 10.1126/science.1150473). The author points to differences in how people ‘use’ on-line publications and how they approach print publications — readers of on-line publications tend to search for key words even within a text and to follow hyperlinks rather than reading a whole text or ‘browsing’ a whole document. “Searching online is more efficient and following hyperlinks quickly puts researchers in touch with prevailing opinion, but this may accelerate consensus and narrow the range of findings and ideas built upon.”

A somewhat worrisome thesis — but how would one go about challenging this trend?

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