A report just published by the Research Information Network (RIN):
RIN (2010) If you build it, will they come? How researchers perceive and use web 2.0. London: RIN. (web address at the end of this post)
They undertook a survey of researchers in the United Kingdom, and also review some of the literature. Basically, use of Web 2.0 for research not huge, but there are strong variations, with some very frequent users, and some using Web 2.0 (as consumers or producers) not much at all. The largest use is amongst the middle aged rather than the younger researcher (although, from the quotations, it seems like non-users still have the stereotype of it being "for the young"). Issues of Web 2.0 content/tools' validity & reliability emerge, and concerns about getting your ideas stolen (and caution is justifiable I would say).
The report recommendations more support for Web 2.0 use in research (which ties in with a talk at the Institutional Web Management Workshop 2010 which I heard broadcast yesterday, identifying that a small amount of time was spent centrally supporting technology for research (as opposed to technology for learning & teaching).
"The findings from all elements of our study suggest that widespread adoption of web 2.0 services by researchers depends on their being intuitive and easy to use, available free at the point of use, and incremental in building upon existing practices. Above all, they must offer both clear advantages to users and near zero adoption costs. Key intermediaries such as innovative publishers and conference organisers have been important stimulators of both service innovation and uptake. But there is some debate about whether many of the web 2.0 services for researchers – particularly social network services – provide sufficient added value to stimulate widespread adoption (Bradley, 2009)."
The report is at http://www.rin.ac.uk/our-work/communicating-and-disseminating-research/use-and-relevance-web-20-researchers
Photo by Sheila Webber: Pitcher plants, Glasgow Botanical Gardens, July 2010