Scientists are being overwhelmed by too much science.
A new scientific study concludes that there are too many scientific studies. Written by researchers in Finland and California, it is entitled “Attention Decay In Science” (pdf).
The paper outlines some very simple and difficult realities. For example, it notes that scientists simply can’t keep track of all the studies in their field. And it concludes that the citation rate of papers is rapidly declining over time.
“Nowadays papers are forgotten more quickly,” says the study. The ultimate result for these researchers is that the “attention of scholars depends on the number of published items, not on real time.”
The problem, the paper says, is remarkably modern and so very Facebook: “Attention, measured by the number and lifetime of citations, is the main currency of the scientific community, and along with other forms of recognition forms the basis for promotions and the reputation of scientists.”