Is the web narrowing scientists’ expertise?
ONLINE databases of scientific journals have made life easier for scientists as well as publishers. No more ambling down to the library, searching through the musty stacks and queuing up for the photocopier. Instead, a few clicks of a mouse can bring forth the desired papers and maybe others that the reader did not know of—the “long tail” of information that the web makes available.
Well, that is how it is supposed to work, but does it? James Evans, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, decided to investigate. His conclusion, published in this week’s Science, is that the opposite is happening.