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News Release 08-120

Research Publications Online: Too Much of A Good Thing?

New research shows that as more scholarly and research journals are available online, researchers cite fewer, newer papers

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A graphic showing a library of leather-bound books through a computer monitor

Having research papers and other scholarly writing available online gives researchers access to a great deal of materials without having to enter a library. But how does this impact the new research that they produce? James Evans at the University of Chicago has studied this question and his conclusion is surprising--despite having greater access to scholarly materials, researchers are actually citing fewer papers. The papers they do cite tend to be newer and are likely to be cited by other researchers.

Credit: Jupiter Images


Thanks to the Internet, scientists now have access to an astonishing number of research papers, scholarly journals and other papers. But according to new research conducted by James Evans, a professor sociology at the University of Chicago, researchers are actually citing fewer papers than ever, and they tend to cite newer papers that are also cited by many of their peers. In this interview, James discusses what got him interested in the topic, how he conducted his research and what he believes are some of the implications of this trend.

Credit: University of Chicago / National Science Foundation


Cover of July 18 issue of Science magazine.

The researcher's findings appear in the July 18 issue of Science magazine.

Credit: Copyright 2008 AAAS

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