ASIS&T 2006 START Conference Manager    

HOW CHEMISTS ARE REALLY FINDING AND USING INFORMATION IN OUR DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT

Panelists: Ashley Brown, Cecelia Brown, and Catherine Blake; Moderator: Carol Tenopir

ASIS&T Annual Meeting - 2006 (ASIS&T 2006)
Austin, Texas, November 3-9, 2006


Abstract

The quantity of information available electronically to scientists continues to increase at an alarming rate. For example, the top 418 journals in ISI (http://isiknowledge.com) published more than 110,000 articles in 2002 alone. Chemists are particularly prone to information overload because they have more personal journal subscriptions (Noble & Coughlin 1997), read more articles than other scientists (Tenopir et al. 2003), and download and view far more journals than other subpopulations in the sciences (Davis & Solla 2003). Although these articles capture the latest findings in chemistry, the quantity of information makes it difficult for scientists to stay current, and they have little time to explore new connections between articles. To ensure the provision, as well as the improvement, of access to this essential element of scientific productivity and innovation it is critical that information scientists understand how the explosion of print and digital information is influencing the information behavior of scientists. Knowing that chemists read more than their colleagues in other scientific disciplines is not enough, it is also critical to know what chemists are reading, how they are using what they read, how they read journal articles and other information sources, as well as the role reading plays within their existing work practices.

The three panelists will discuss a variety of methods used to describe the information behavior of this active and productive group of researchers. To elucidate what chemists are reading, two of the panelists will discuss studies employing citation analysis of American Chemical Society (ACS). The first study illustrates how citation analysis can be used to inform chemistry collection development as well as the stability of citations to ACS journals over time. The second citation analysis continues this theme by illustrating the influence of electronic availability on the citation pattern of a sample of ACS journals. This second study also investigates the use of electronic information by authors of ACS journal articles through citation and content analysis. The third study describes the role the published literature plays during the discovery processes used by chemists using interviews of academic chemists. The goal of the three studies is to provide a realistic snapshot of the information behavior of chemists in our current digital age. It is hoped that this snapshot will assist in the creation, design, and delivery of information products and services to support the research, teaching, and creative activities of chemists and scientists in general.

Davis, M. P., & Solla, R. L. 2003. An IP-Level analysis of usage statistics for electronic journals in chemistry: Making inferences about user behavior. JASIS 54(11), 1062-1068.

Noble, L. R., & Coughlin, C. 1997. Information-seeking practices of Canadian academic chemists: A Study of Information Needs and Use of Resources in Chemistry. Canadian Journal of Communication 22(3/4): 1-10.

Tenopir, C., King, D. W., Boyce, P., Grayson, M., Zhang, Y., & Ebuen, M. 2003. Patterns of journal use by scientists through three evolutionary phases. D-Lib Magazine 9: 1-15.


  
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