Elsevier Online Opinion Survey Reveals Researchers Ready to Push Scientific Search and Discovery to the Next Level

October 4, 2010

AMSTERDAM, October 4, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — On Tuesday,
September 28
, Elsevier released the results of a “Future of Search and
Discovery” opinion survey that was designed to provide a “quick pulse” of the
attitudes of researchers through an informal online opinion poll. While it
was not a scientific research study nor labeled as such in the release, we
should have included more information about the survey’s methodology and
limitations. To avoid any confusion, we have clarified the press release and
survey results to communicate more clearly the nature of the survey. The
complete, updated release follows.

Elsevier, (http://www.elsevier.com/) a world-leading publisher of
scientific, technical and medical information products and services, released
highlights from a new online opinion survey that suggests that researchers
around the globe are not only ready for the next phase in search and
discovery, but also prepared to actively contribute to making it a reality.

In developing SciVerse, Elsevier’s recently launched search and discovery
platform, the company conducted a significant amount of qualitative market
research within the scientific community. Building on this earlier work, the
online “Future of Search and Discovery” survey offers a quick pulse of the
attitudes and opinions of 1,200 researchers across the globe. Respondents
primarily hailed from academia (79%) with the balance from government (15%)
and industry (7%). The survey was conducted as an informal online opinion
poll and while indicative of opinions of those responding, it is not intended
to be viewed as a rigorous scientific research study on the matter.


This summer, 1,200 academic, government and industry researchers
participated in Elsevier’s “Future of Search and Discovery” online survey. A
link to the online survey was distributed via email to 11,570 ScienceDirect
users on June 22, 2010, with 1,801 users clicking the link. The link was sent
to an additional 22,768 Science Direct users on June 28, 2010, 1,223 clicked
that link. As multiple subject area lists were used, it is possible there
were some duplicate email addresses. A link to the survey was also included
on http://info.scopus.com and http://info.sciencedirect.com. The survey was
closed to further responses on July 5, 2010 after 1,200 responses were
received (the goal was to collect more than 1,000 responses). Respondents
came from 100 countries and 20 fields within the physical sciences and
engineering, life, health and social sciences disciplines.

Broad-Based Web Trends Poised to Enhance Search Process

The survey investigates the current understanding of the prospective
impact of open data and the opening up of platforms through the release of
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The results clearly suggest
awareness of the potential these trends hold for enhancing search. In fact,
almost all respondents agree that “open data is important to the future of
search and discovery,” with 71 percent indicating it is “very important” and
another quarter (26%) finding it “somewhat important.”

Researchers also have a high level of awareness of APIs, seeing them as
important components that can foster innovation. Eight in 10 concur the
“availability of APIs will foster experimentation and the development of
innovative search and discovery applications.”

“The ability to find and access raw data is increasingly critical to
research. As the volume of data continues to grow and repositories
proliferate, researchers will need new solutions to help them find and use
that data,” explains Judson Dunham, Senior Product Manager Science and
Technology for Elsevier. “New platforms, APIs and tailored applications can
help to release the full potential of that data. The survey suggests that
researchers recognize the potential for these trends to accelerate research.”

Taking Application Development Personally

Researchers not only agree that APIs will result in search-related
application experimentation, they are also ready to play an active role. More
than two-thirds (68%) say they would be personally interested in developing a
search and discovery application using scientific content for their own
institution. Within this group of respondents, 61 percent identify “the
opportunity to help speed up research among the scientific community as a
whole” as best describing the driving force behind their interest.
Comparatively, less than one third (31%) say their motivation would be to
speed up their own research.

Despite their attraction to application building, less than one third of
these researchers (31%) feel their institution would be supportive in terms
of time and resources. In fact, 41 percent indicate their institutions would
expect them to develop applications on their own time, using their own
resources. These results suggest development could potentially be curtailed
by uncertainty with respect to support.

The survey also revealed technical fluency as another possible barrier.
Among those who did not initially indicate application development interest,
66 percent say they would indeed be interested if they could collaborate with
others who would handle the technical aspects.

Diversity of Needs Reflected in Specific Application Interest

Perhaps reflective of the diverse needs and interests of researchers,
there were no clear leaders when respondents were asked which type of
applications would be most useful to the scientific community. In fact, all
of the application options in the survey had similar response rates as
follows: applications that facilitate more customized search (18%); those
that extract data to elicit more meaningful insight (17%); apps that show
content which trusted peers find valuable (16%); those that provide
personalized content delivery based on my interests and background (16%); and
apps offering analytical tools that are able to target trends, look at
historical research output and text/data mine to create semantic
relationships across scientific content (16%).

The Future of Search… It’s All in the Network

In an effort to understand where researchers think things are headed, the
survey asked respondents what they thought would be the greatest impact of
search technology over the next several years. Nearly half (47%) selected
“the establishment of collaborative knowledge networks (online groups of
trusted peers),” followed by 28 percent who chose “the linking of data sets
to published research,” 15 percent who say “improved interoperability of data
and content” and 10 percent who agree “the ability to correlate data
collected across instruments.”

Further indicating an awareness of the importance of knowledge networks
to the future of search and discovery, eight in ten (81%) respondents agree
“in the next several years, researchers will use knowledge networks (online
groups of trusted peers) as a reliable source for filtering and viewing

“Entering a new era in search and discovery will require new
collaboration, with all members of the scientific community participating and
embracing new roles,” added Dunham. “Trends like openness and
interoperability can empower researchers and developers to build innovative
applications for solving specific research pain-points. Researchers also
clearly hope and expect to benefit from the social revolution on the web,
seeing the formation of knowledge networks that will help filter the growing
pool of available and useful content.”

Highlights of the “Future of Search and Discovery” survey were recently
shared during an Elsevier-hosted webinar. To view the webinar replay please
register here. (

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading publisher of scientific, technical and
medical information products and services. The company works in partnership
with the global science and health communities to publish more than 2,000
journals, including The Lancet (http://www.thelancet.com/) and Cell,
(http://www.cell.com/) and close to 20,000 book titles, including major
reference works from Mosby and Saunders. Elsevier’s online solutions include
ScienceDirect, (http://www.sciencedirect.com)/) Scopus, (
http://www.scopus.com/) Reaxys, (http://www.scopus.com/) MD Consult
(http://www.mdconsult.com/) and Nursing Consult, (
http://www.nursingconsult.com) which enhance the productivity of science and
health professionals, and the SciVal suite (http://www.scival.com/) and
MEDai’s Pinpoint Review, (http://www.medai.com/) which help research and
health care institutions deliver better outcomes more cost-effectively.

A global business headquartered in Amsterdam, Elsevier
(http://www.elsevier.com/) employs 7,000 people worldwide. The company is
part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, (http://www.reedelsevier.com/Pages/Home.aspx
) a world-leading publisher and information provider, which is jointly owned
by Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. The ticker symbols are REN
(Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York
Stock Exchange).

    Tom Reller, Vice President, Corporate Relations, Elsevier
    Phone: +1-215-239-3508
    E-mail: t.reller@elsevier.com

SOURCE Elsevier

Source: newswire

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