- Informal Communication among Scientists in the Study of Manganese Effects on Human Beings
- No.14, p.145-170
Since de Solla Price pointed out the important role of “invisible colleg” among scientists in the flow of academic information, studies on informal communication have become one of the new subjects in library and information science. Crawford's study on scientists in sleep research demonstrated the social structure of their informal communication network which included 73% of the scientists. There were a core group of scientists within the network who have a surprisingly large number of contacts with others, and 95% information in the network is transmitted by these central scientists through one intermediary or less. They have greater productivity, higher citation record and wider leadership. Korfhage re-examined the data and made a comparison between volumes of correspondence and research productivity.
This paper aimed to re-examine the Crawford's to find out if it could be applied to the biomedical scientists in Japan. The research workers who were engaged in the study of the “effect of Manganese on human bein” were chosen as the target group.
Using an up-to-date comprehensive bibliography on the subject, a group of 414 active researchers from 102 institutions all over Japan were identified during the period of 1966--1974. Seven of the most active researchers were chosen as “gatekeeper”, and questionnaires asking of their communication activities were sent to them. Some of the results such as higher rate of communication activities by the researchers with higher productivity confirmed Crawford's but others did not exactly follow the patterns she presented in her paper. For instance, exchange of preprints, reprints and letters have not been the usual method of exchanging information among the researchers in the field in Japan. These methods are used in communication with colleagues outside of Japan.
Ordinarily, they, attend the various government's committee meetings on the subject and exchange information informally. Even academic society's meetings are not being used very much for the purpose. This may be a characteristics of informal communication among scientists in Japan, at least in the study field of heavy metals' effect on human being.