Proceedings of the AoIR-ASIST 2004 Workshop on Web Science Research Methods
Qualitative Aspects of Quantitative Measurements in the Age of Cyberscience
Cyberscience will be different from traditional science. For two decades now, the scholarly community has witnessed a considerable increase in the use of information and communication technologies (ICT). Unlike ‘traditional’ science that does without networked computers, the notion of ‘cyberscience’ captures the use of these ICT-based applications and services for scientific purposes. It can be shown that ICT use impacts on the basic parameters of how academia is organised, of how it functions, and of what it produces (Nentwich 2003). We are in the middle of a forceful development. Cyberscience is already taking place, but will develop its full shape and potentials only at a later stage. The new media have only just begun to play a central role in a large array of scholarly activities, and in regard to the institutional setting. Not only academic communication in the narrow sense, but also the distribution of knowledge and, most importantly, even knowledge production are affected. Hence, the impact of ICT can hardly be underrated.
In the first part of my presentation, I shall give an overview on my book on ‘Cyberscience – Research in the Age of the Internet’, which describes and analyses the use of ICT in the academic world, explains the status quo based on an analytical model, draws a differentiated picture of probable future developments, assesses the impact of ICT on various aspects of academic activity and on the substance of research, and discusses the implications for research policy and the steering mechanisms within the scholarly organisations.
In the main part, I shall focus on the prospects of new methods of ex-post quality control in academia. Rating, scoring, commenting, access counts, citation counts and use tracking (Atkinson 1996) need to be looked at not only from a technical perspective of feasibility. New aspects such as privacy have to be taken into account as well as known issues in new clothes such as the types and significance of citations (e.g. Fröhlich 1999, Rohe 1998, Ullmann 1996).
Atkinson, R., 1996, Library Functions, Scholarly Communication, and the Foundation of the Digital Library: Laying Claim to the Control Zone, The Library Quarterly66(3), 239-265.
Fröhlich, G., 1999, Das Messen des leicht Meßbaren. Output-Indikatoren, Impact-Maße: Artefakte der Szientometrie?, in: Becker, J. und Göhring, W. (Hg.): Kommunikation statt Markt – Zu einer alternativen Theorie der Informationsgesellschaft; GMD Report 61, Sankt Augustin: Gesellschaft für Mathematik und Datenverarbeitung, 27-38 http://www.gmd.de/publications/report/0061/
Nentwich, M., 2003, Cyberscience. Research in the Age of the Internet. Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, Vienna (591 pp.) http://hw.oeaw.ac.at/3188-7
Rohe, T. A., 1998, How Does Electronic Publishing Affect the Scholarly Communication Process?, Journal of Electronic Publishing 3(3) http://www.press.umich.edu/jep/03-03/rohe.html
Ullman, J. D., 1996, Research Publication Modes Need to be Reengineered – A discussion, Computing Research News, July http://www-db.stanford.edu/~ullman/pub/nopaper.html
See also project website at http://www.oeaw.ac.at/ita/cyberscience.htm.