The importance of books ..

Lorcan 1 min read

I read the interesting Communicating knowledge: how and why UK researchers publish and disseminate their findings and its supplementary reports (literature review and bibliometric analysis) on a transatlantic flight the other day. (Incidentally, it must have been the most cramped large-plane seat I have ever been on – I could not use my laptop.)
A brief overview and links to report components are available on the Research Information Network splash page.
There is much of interest in the report about publishing and communications practices and about incentives.
Given our general discussion of books and their contexts I was struck by several findings about the relative importance of books in overall practice.
The bibliometric analysis examined the outputs of a sample of UK researchers:

Although there is no difference over time in the total number of citations per output, there are statistically significant differences in the types of work being cited, shown in Figure 15. There are more citations to journal articles and websites in 2008 than in 2003, but fewer citations to books and grey literature. Supporting paper 1: bibliometric analysis]

Here is a comment from the main report:

As noted earlier, there has been a drift towards journal papers, meeting abstracts and editorial material, and a corresponding decline in books, book chapters and conference proceedings. But many researchers believe that the increased volumes of publication in recent years are the results of an environment characterised by an increasing emphasis on assessing and evaluating performance, which brings with it pressure to publish too much, too soon and in inappropriate formats. And some believe that quality is being compromised in the pursuit of increased output .. [Communicating knowledge ..]

Disciplinary differences are described. As we consider what is going to happen to the monograph literature in the next few years, the impact of increasingly important evaluation regimes is an interesting dimension.

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