Studies are Suffering from an Information Decay

A new study has found that there are too many studies. So much that there's an information decay happening in the minds of researchers.

Here at Big Think, we like to report on studies and advancements in the field of research. But for each day of the week that passes, there's a new influx of scholarly papers (with their own press releases) that get published. So many that one scientist decided to create the Journal of Brief Ideas, as a way to help prevent researchers from developing conflicting ideas. But some researchers think it's becoming too much.


Researchers in California and Finland say that the sheer volume of papers being released is having a deteriorating effect on scientists' attention spans. They write:

“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.” 

The researchers measured the life cycle of papers by looking at the citations from a number of research papers. They found that, compared to past papers, the rate of decay is increasing, or the life cycle of a paper is decaying. They write:

“The decay is also becoming faster over the years, signaling that nowadays papers are forgotten more quickly.”

Their results suggest that scholars and scientists were more likely to “forget” recent studies than ones done in the past. They write:

“We found that this has to do with the exponential growth in the number of publications, which inevitably accelerates the turnover of papers, due to the finite capacity of scholars to keep track of the scientific literature.

"The growing number of publications also has a devaluing effect on the results of published studies. The more studies there are, the more likely a paper will become 'obsolete.'”

Read more about the Attention Decay in Science.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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