Changing Approaches to Research Synthesis Affect Social and Intellectual Structures of Science
Research synthesis methods, like collaboration and interdisciplinary research, comprise practices through which scholarly and scientific knowledge is integrated. The methods, which include meta-analysis and integrative or systematic review, are also arguably one of the most important contemporary methodological innovations in many research fields. As an innovative research practice, research synthesis, like many innovations, may be associated with complex or unexpected consequences as it diffuses through the research system. This study examines the extent to which the diffusion of research synthesis methods has affected levels of collaboration and research use through comparison with literature reviews in five fields. In Social Work and Information and Library Science, more authors contributed to research syntheses than reviews. There was no difference in number of authors in the biological sciences, but a greater number of authors contributed to both reviews and syntheses. Research syntheses were used more than reviews in Conservation Biology and Women’s Studies. In Social Work, research syntheses and reviews were cited at similar levels, but production of reviews has decreased as syntheses have increased, suggesting that research synthesis was becoming the predominant approach to review, traditional reviews remained valuable to researchers, though in an increasingly narrow range of contexts. In Information and Library Science, research reviews were used more than research syntheses, and trends suggest that research reviews are a relatively rare but highly prized – or at least frequently used – resource. No difference was found between use of research syntheses and reviews in Evolutionary Biology. Future research should investigate relationships between different approaches to knowledge integration in the context of science fields, which would lead to a better understanding of integration, or synthesis, in science overall; and could inform design of research policy programs.
Investigating Singapore’s Altmetric Landscape
Altmetrics is an emerging measure for academic impact and it is gaining in global importance. In this paper, we analyse the altmetric landscape of Singapore, a young nation with a fast growing international research sector. We aim to find out if the coverage of altmetrics across the different disciplines is increasing along with the fast increase in the amount of research publications in recent years. We also look into how altmetrics relate to traditional citation counts as a measure of research impact. From our results, we see that there is overall an 18% coverage of altmetrics of Singapore publications from 2009 to 2013. The number of publications with altmetrics has also been increasing over the years for most disciplines. Correlation results between citation counts and altmetrics show medium to low correlations with distinct differences amongst the various disciplines. A high coverage of altmetrics however does not seem to lead to larger correlations with citation counts. Singapore thus remains an intriguing case study to watch in the coming years.
An Investigation of Retracted Articles in the Biomedical Literature
A major challenge to formal scientific communication is the retraction of published works. This study includes a detailed analysis of retracted articles in biomedical literature, including categorization of the reasons for retraction. The examination covers the years 2010 through 2012. Analysis also includes citations to articles retracted between 2001 and 2005. The totality of the investigation is couched within the context of communication in the biomedical sciences and, to a lesser extent, of the formulation of theories of citation.