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Why aren’t web 2.0 tools being used more for research collaboration?

By 15/11/2011

Blogs, wikis, social networking sites and other web 2.0 tools have the potential to transform research collaboration and knowledge-sharing and are often included in research communication strategies. But to what extent are researchers making use of these tools to network and exchange knowledge with other researchers? Are academics in developing countries more or less likely to adopt these tools? And what can we do to encourage greater uptake?

A new study commissioned by GDNet explores the barriers to adoption of web 2.0 tools for research collaboration in developing countries.

The stGDNet web 2.0 study wordleudy reviews:

  • current levels of adoption of web 2.0 tools for research collaboration by development researchers in the South, including regional or gender differences
  • reasons for any lack of use of web 2.0 tools by researchers and how these might be addressed
  • existing online academic communities to identify good practice in design, management and monitoring and evaluation

From the secondary data available, levels of take-up among academics in the South are relatively low and there do seem to gender and regional difference both in terms of use and reasons why adoption might not occur. These reasons fall into three broad categories:

  • Researchers do not know the tools exist
  • Researchers are not able to use them
  • Researchers choose not to use them

The study identifies numerous specific barriers, which individually or in combination, can thwart ambitions to encourage use of web 2.0 tools, including: poor infrastructure or lack of equipment, usability, time, perceived value or credibility of tools, and lack of institutional incentives.

A fuller summary of the study’s findings and its recommendations is available at the GDNet Blog where comments and suggestions of additional sources are encouraged, and the report can be downloaded from the study’s webpage, which includes links to some of the publications referenced.