Are the Internet and the Web transforming access to sources of scientific expertise? To what extent? Are sources of expertise becoming more concentrated or more diversified? Can we empirically validate the 'winner take-all' hypothesis in electronic space? This research project assessed whether, and to what extent, the Internet and the Web are transforming access to sources of scientific expertise.
Six global issues been selected to reflect a range of challenges of world-wide importance: climate change, HIV/AIDS, the Internet and society, poverty, trade reform, and terrorism. The project identified key resources on the Web and analysed online discussion groups devoted to these issues. It then used a variety of quantitative and qualitative (coordinated by Jenny Fry) methods, including new webmetric analyses, to identify how centralised or diffused online resources and information exchanges have become.
The findings were intended to support science policy and decision-makers in the distribution of online resources: how could these be better deployed to ensure the widest possible access? The project also aimed to enhance our understanding of the role of science in society: how is this rapidly growing medium used in practice for accessing scientific expertise?
This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) research programme, grant RES-160-25-0031.