The Internet as a new medium for the sciences? The effects of Internet use on traditional scientific communication media among social scientists in Germany

Publication Date01 Oct 2002
AuthorMartin Eisend
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Library & information science
The Internet as a new
medium for the sciences?
The effects of Internet
use on traditional
scientific communication
media among social
scientists in Germany
Martin Eisend
Whereas cognition is tied to an individual,
scientific cognition is tied to communicative
interaction between scientists. Only when
knowledge is communicated and made
available to the scientific community for
validation and further research can this
cognition become scientifically proved
knowledge. Therefore, science depends on
communication (Stichweh, 1990). Like all
other forms of communication scientific
communication exists on at least two
dimensions ± one dimension related to
content and the other related to the social
function of communication (Watzlawick,
1967). Scientific communication can be
defined as communication that:
.transmits scientific knowledge (the
dimension related to content); and
.takes place between scientists (the social
If both of these conditions are met we have
what is called intern scientific communication,
whereas when communication meets only the
first condition we have extern scientific
communication. An example of extern
scientific communication can be found when
journalists report on scientific research and its
results. The presentstudy is restricted to intern
scientific communication, which takes place in
the scientific field of research and in the
formalised discourse of publications. In all
other scientific fields of activity (scientific
policy and research planning, teaching, any
kind of exertion of influence on practice and
discourse in the publicsphere) extern scientific
communication primarily takes place (Krohn
and KuÈ ppers, 1990).
Media of scientific communication
Forms of communication and the exchange of
knowledge have changed greatly throughout
the course of history. Usually, four phases are
(1) the phase of primary orality;
(2) the writing phase;
(3) the phase of typography; and
(4) the phase of electronic informat ion
processing (Ong, 1982).
The author
Martin Eisend is a PhD Student at the Institute of
Marketing at the Free University Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
Internet, Communications, Publishing,
Electronic publishing
Scientific communication takes place within two main
fields: research and publication. Whereas twentieth
century audio-visual media did not become established in
the scientific communication system, the Internet, with its
variety of communication options, is able to enter both
fields of communication and has even revolutionised this
communication system to some extent. The investigation
of this relationship is based on data from a study of social
scientists taken in Berlin in autumn 1999. The Internet
substitutes written communication media and
complements forms of spoken communication in the field
of research. It also complements traditional publisher-
oriented forms of publication and is even a substitute for
works that have previously avoided publication.
Therefore, the Internet should not be regarded as a new
alternative to traditional and institutionalised structures of
communication of scientific publications, as it has already
become institutionalised in the field of research as a
medium of interpersonal communication.
Electronic access
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Refereed article received 10 June 2002
Approved for publication 2 July 2002
Online Information Review
Volume 26 .Number 5 .2002 .pp. 307±317
#MCB UP Limited .ISSN 1468-4527
DOI 1001108/14684520210447877

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