There are too many studies, new study finds

Scientific literature is exceeding scholars' finite capacity to read (and retain) it

Christopher Hooton
Wednesday 11 March 2015 16:39 GMT
Or maybe just too much internet in general?
Or maybe just too much internet in general? (Getty)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Science is drowning in studies, and it took a study to expose it.

In a paper entitled 'Attention decay in science', professors from universities in Finland and California conclude that "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.

"Consequently," the say, "the attention that can be devoted to individual papers, measured by their citation counts, is bound to decay rapidly."

While this particular study relates to the booming number of academic papers and journals, it's a trend we can probably all relate to.

Content is snowballing in the information age, its volume weakening the impact and longevity of each individual thing, be it a study, opinion, fact, tweet or utterance.

While this disposability of content is usually talked about with regards to culture - music, films, TV etc - the study shows the insidious effect it could have on science.

With the exponential growth in the number of scientific literature inevitably accelerating the turnover of papers due to the finite capacity of scholars to keep track of it, important data, research and theories could be overlooked.

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