If you build it, will they come? How researchers perceive and use web 2.0
Procter, Rob, Williams, Robin and Stewart, James (2010) If you build it, will they come? How researchers perceive and use web 2.0. London, UK: Research Network Information..
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Official URL: http://www.rin.ac.uk/our-work/communicating-and-di...
Over the past 15 years, the web has transformed the way we seek and use
information. In the last 5 years in particular a set of innovative techniques –
collectively termed ‘web 2.0’ – have enabled people to become producers as
well as consumers of information.
It has been suggested that these relatively easy-to-use tools, and the behaviours which
underpin their use, have enormous potential for scholarly researchers, enabling them to
communicate their research and its findings more rapidly, broadly and effectively than
This report is based on a study commissioned by the Research Information Network to
investigate whether such aspirations are being realised. It seeks to improve our currently
limited understanding of whether, and if so how, researchers are making use of various
web 2.0 tools in the course of their work, the factors that encourage or inhibit adoption,
and researchers’ attitudes towards web 2.0 and other forms of communication.
How researchers communicate their work and their findings varies in different subjects
or disciplines, and in different institutional settings. Such differences have a strong
influence on how researchers approach the adoption – or not – of new information and
communications technologies. It is also important to stress that ‘web 2.0’ encompasses
a wide range of interactions between technologies and social practices which allow web
users to generate, repurpose and share content with each other. We focus in this study on
a range of generic tools – wikis, blogs and some social networking systems – as well as
those designed specifically by and for people within the scholarly community.
Our study was designed not only to capture current attitudes and patterns of adoption but
also to identify researchers’ needs and aspirations, and problems that they encounter.
We began with an online survey, which collected information about researchers’ information
gathering and dissemination habits and their attitudes towards web 2.0. This was followed
by in-depth, semi-structured interviews with a stratified sample of survey respondents to
explore in more depth their experience of web 2.0, including perceived barriers as well as
drivers to adoption. Finally, we undertook five case studies of web 2.0 services to investigate
their development and adoption across different communities and business models.
Our study indicates that a majority of researchers are making at least occasional use of one
or more web 2.0 tools or services for purposes related to their research: for communicating
their work; for developing and sustaining networks and collaborations; or for finding out
about what others are doing. But frequent or intensive use is rare, and some researchers
regard blogs, wikis and other novel forms of communication as a waste of time or even
In deciding if they will make web 2.0 tools and services part of their everyday practice, the
key questions for researchers are the benefits they may secure from doing so, and how it fits
with their use of established services. Researchers who use web 2.0 tools and services do not
see them as comparable to or substitutes for other channels and means of communication,
but as having their own distinctive role for specific purposes and at particular stages of
research. And frequent use of one kind of tool does not imply frequent use of others as well.
|Subjects:||L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources
|Divisions:||Faculty of Science > Computer Science|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Web 2.0, Internet research , Researchers|
|Publisher:||Research Network Information|
|Place of Publication:||London, UK|
|Official Date:||July 2010|
|Number of Pages:||64|
|Access rights to Published version:||Open Access|
|Funder:||Research Information Network (Organization) (Great Britain)|
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