A new study by professors from universities in Finland and California, has found that science is in decay.
The study published online concludes that IT is to blame for the outcome of the study.
Published as ‘Attention decay in science;’ It says that there are too many new studies, and not enough researchers to keep pace with the new studies.
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‘The exponential growth in the number of scientific papers makes it increasingly difficult for researchers to keep track of all the publications relevant to their work,’ the researchers wrote. ‘Consequently, the attention that can be devoted to individual papers, measured by their citation counts, is bound to decay rapidly.’
The ‘decay’ the researchers investigated is how quickly a piece of research is discarded – this is measured by establishing the initial publication, the peak in its popularity and, ultimately, its disappearance from citations in subsequent publications.
‘Interestingly the decay is getting faster and faster, indicating that scholars ‘forget’ more easily papers now than in the past,’ reads the paper. ‘We found that this has to do with the exponential growth in the number of publications, which inevitably accelerates the turnover of papers, due to the finite capacity of scholars to keep track of the scientific literature.’
Scientists have previously warned about the effects that the digital age, including the exponential growth of information, is having on culture and the human mind. However, this is the first indication that the sufferings of science are the same.
‘New papers have higher citation rates for the first few years, whereas over longer periods of time old papers have higher citation rates,’ the authors concluded, proving human love for verified knowledge.
Last month the Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, spoke of the fear that the modern social media age is curtailing our attention spans, highlighting Twitter as the best example of this, but explaining it as a broader issue, not to do with just one piece of software.
‘We are clearly in the midst of an information revolution, with close to 99pc of the entire stock of information ever created having been generated this century. ‘This has had real benefits. But it may also have had cognitive costs. ‘One of those potential costs is shorter attention spans,’ he said. ‘Some societal trends are consistent with that. ‘The tenure of jobs and relationships is declining.
‘The rising incidence of attention deficit disorders, and the rising prominence of Twitter, may be further evidence of shortening attention spans.’
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