Communicating knowledge: How and why UK researchers publish and disseminate their findings is an interesting report released last week. "It investigates a series of questions in three broad areas: 1. Publication and dissemination behaviour; 2. Citation behaviour; 3. The perceived influence of research assessment (past and anticipated)" For the information of non-Brits, "research assessment" means the periodic exercise that rates every department in every UK university on the quality of its research: Government funding is related to the score so this is very important to UK academics.
The investigation was done through bibliometric (citation) analysis, a literature review, an online survey and focus groups and interviews conducted with research-active academics from various institutions and disciplines.
The report discusses disciplinary differences. For example, journal articles are important to everyone, but there are differing patterns as regards other publications "it is notable that strong majorities of researchers across all disciplines regard other forms of publication and output as important, especially conference presentations and posters, monographs, and book chapters." (there are bar charts showing differences)
The report discusses influences on where to publish (including the tension between desire to reach particular audience (e.g. practitioners), and need to be published in "top" journals; and the influence of the research assessment exercise). The report also discusses issues that affect citation and retrieval, such as who gets listed as author and in what order (this varies dramatically by discipline); and issues of how references are chosen.
The report was done by a team from Loughborough University and Manchester Metropolitan University: Jenny Fry and Charles Oppenheim; Claire Creaser, William Johnson, Mark Summers; and Geoff Butters, Jenny Craven, Jill Griffiths, and Dick Hartley.
Research Information Network. (2009) Communicating knowledge: How and why UK researchers publish and disseminate their findings. RIN and JISC. http://www.rin.ac.uk/communicating-knowledge
Photo by Sheila Webber: Spot the cat no. 6 (Milan Castle, August 2009). You will probably need to click the thumbnail to spot the cat... OK, this is actually a trick one, the cat is under the car (I wasn't quite quick enough with my camera) and therefore cannot be spotted.