William Gunn

When technology shifts the academic balance

William Gunn is head of academic outreach for Mendeley.

This may appear as a mysterious occupation to some. According to his official biography on Mendeley, this involves spending “a good deal of time writing blog posts, essays, technical papers, presentations, and in general contributing to interesting conversations happening across academia and the tech community.”

Gunn has also been active in altmetrics and research reproducibility, writing code, analysing data, and publishing papers as well as giving talks to scientific societies. Specifically, he is involved in the Reproducibility Initiative, which aims to identify and reward high quality reproducible research.

He views social networks as the skeleton which supports the flesh and muscle of more substantial online and offline interactions. A previously published survey of Mendeley’s users, called the Global Research Report, shows that there is increased participation from a wide range of different country, as research becomes increasingly globalised.

In this exclusive video interview to the EuroScientist, he shares his perspective on how technology is influencing the research pace.

Social media networks like Mendeley have  affected the way scientists work. “We are seeing scientists become more collaborative in their research, increasingly because it is required to do the most impactful research,” he says. It has been known for sometimes that collaboration increases the profile of the research. “Having at least one author from another country on the paper leads your work being more highly cited, and this trend has only increased over time” he notes.

Specifically, he refers to a recent study entitled The fourth age of research by Jonathan Adams, former director of research evaluation at Thomson Reuters, demonstrating this phenomenon in the US and in the UK. “People have known for a long time that more collaborative work leads to higher impact for your paper, not only because you are addressing the needs of a larger population, but you are finding the expertise you need to do the most impactful work,” he adds.  And tools like Mendeley increase that process.

The other noticeable impact of increasing collaboration is on the speed of research. “The research itself will accelerate and a greater innovation will come as a side effect,” he adds. “Innovation catalyses further innovation, in somewhat unpredictable ways,” he says.

William Gunn Skype interview



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