Tools for scholarly communication – survey results
A few months ago I invited researchers to take part in a survey of the tools they used to support their own scholarly communication. Northampton’s answers were then combined with those from other universities to create a dataset of over 20,000 responses.
The number of responses from Northampton was relatively small (just 36) so these comments should be read with the appropriate health warnings but I promised to let you know our results.
About the respondents:
The 36 respondents comprised 11 academic staff; 2 postdocs; 19 research students; 2 librarians; 1 Bachelor/Master student and 1 ‘other’. Twelve listed their discipline as Social Sciences & Economics; 6 selected each of Arts & Humanities and Life Sciences (or Life Sciences and Medicine); 2 chose Medicine; 2 chose Physical Sciences and there was one each from Engineering & Technology and Law.
Use of tools by Northampton researchers:
(Please note, respondents were able to select multiple answers to most questions. Numbers in brackets indicate number of responses.)
- All but two respondents used Google Scholar to search for literature; the next most popular tools were Web of Science (19), followed by PubMed (10). 17 respondents specifically mentioned NELSON or other individual subscription databases.
- In order to access literature all but one person specified ‘institutional access’ but just under half (17) also used ResearchGate. 10 emailed the author and 9 used the Open Access button.
- For alerts and recommendations, researchers preferred ResearchGate (14), Google Scholar (11), JournalTOCs (3) and Zetoc (3).
- Adobe Acrobat was by far the most commonly used tool for reading, viewing and annotating papers (with 34 responses), followed by ‘using HTML view’ (12), Mendeley (6) and ReadCube (3).
- For data analysis, 26 researchers used Excel, 21 researchers used SPSS, 7 specified NVivo and 3 used ‘R’. Minitab, Matlab, and Polinode also received a mention.
- Tools for sharing notebooks, protocols and workflows were not highly used but Open Science Framework (3), Protocols.io (1) and Benchfly (1) were selected. Under the ‘other’ category three people noted Google docs and two stated Dropbox.
- Microsoft Word (35) was the clear favourite tool for preparing manuscripts but Google Drive/Docs was also well used (16). One person used LaTex.
- For reference management, 17 respondents used RefWorks, 9 used EndNote, 6 used Mendeley and 2 used Zotero. A number of researchers used more than one tool.
- The most popular tool for archiving and sharing publications was the institutional repository, NECTAR (yay!) with 18 responses, closely followed by ResearchGate (16). Two researchers stated that they shared working papers. In the ‘other’ category, Academi.edu was mentioned by 3 people and one person noted that they used a research group website and personal blog for this purpose.
- Github was chosen by 2 people for archiving and sharing data and code.
- The tools used for deciding which journal to submit a manuscript to were, in order of use, JCR (impact factors) (6), SHERPA/RoMEO (4), SCImago journal rank (2), Scopus (2) DOAJ (1) and QOAM. The Association of business School list, IEEE and the journal website received a mention under ‘Other’.
- Of the tools and sites used to publish, 17 respondents selected traditional topical journals and 6 each chose a topical journal from an open access (OA) publisher or a traditional megajournal. One person selected an OA megajournal. No respondents in this survey had considered a data journal for their output.
- Slideshare (7) was most frequently used for posters and presentations, followed by NECTAR (4), Vimeo (2) and ResearchGate (2). Other tools included ScienceOpen posters, Figshare, Facebook, ResearchGate, Dropbox and a personal blog (all one each).
- For disseminating work outside of academia the preferred tools were Twitter (10), WordPress (7), Wikipedia (6) and Facebook (2). Researchblogging.org, FameLab, ResearchGate, LinkedIn and email lists each had one mention.
- Nearly all respondents had at least one (and often several) research profiles. 21 people used Academia.edu, 17 used ResearchGate, 17 used Google Scholar Citations, 13 had a profile page at the University, 8 used ORCID and 3 used LinkedIn. One person used ResearcherID.
- In contrast, only 3 people in total used a tool or site for peer review beyond that organised by journals. Of these, two used Peerage of Science and one used PubPeer.
- Preferred tools for measuring impact were Web of Science (8); JCR impact factor (4), Altmetric (4), Scopus (3), ResearchGate (3), ImpactStory (1), PLoS article level metrics (1) and Harzing’s Publish or Perish (1).
Future of scholarly communications:
Respondents were asked: What do you think will be the most important development in scholarly communication in the coming years? Developments in open access featured highly among the responses, as did social media. Impact and data sharing each also received a couple of mentions.
Finally, respondents were asked whether they supported the goal of Open Access and the goals of Open Science. Responses to both were overwhelmingly positive:
If you have any comments to make about any of these findings then we’d love to read them.