Communicating knowledge: how and why researchers publish and disseminate their findings

Added by Sarah on 17 September 2009

This report looks at how researchers publish and why, including the motivations that lead them to publish in different formats and the increase in collaboration and co-authorship. It also explores how researchers decide what to cite and the influence of research assessment on their behaviours and attitudes.

The full report and supporting documents, and a briefing are available to download below. This report has been published by the RIN in conjunction with JISC. A short podcast is also available, interviewing Michael Jubb, Director of the RIN and Neil Jacobs, Programme Manager Information Environment at JISC about the report’s key findings and implications.

Researchers want to develop new knowledge and understanding of the world we live in and to communicate their findings to others. Increasingly, however, they are being pulled in different directions in deciding which channels of communication they should adopt, from professional society journals and conferences to less formal means such as social networking tools.

So just how do researchers decide when, where and how to communicate their work? Based on evidence gathered from an extensive literature review, bibliometric analysis, focus groups, interviews and an online survey, our report presents a comprehensive view of how researchers communicate their work across the range of disciplines in the UK.

The report examines the motivations, incentives and constraints that lead UK researchers in different subjects and disciplines to publish and disseminate their work in different ways. It explores how and why they cite other researchers? work, as well as how their decisions on publication and citation are influenced by past and anticipated research assessment.

This research has been carried out at a time when there has been considerable debate about the format of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). We hope that the key findings identified in the report may help to illuminate some of the issues raised in the continuing discussions about the structure of the REF.

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Hard copies of this report and briefing are available, email

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