Over the past few years, I've found myself increasingly interesting in optimizing technical search strategies that interface with Google's various search engines (Google One Box Link), and less interested in gaining access to "formal academic" research tools like IEEE's Xplore.
Yesterday, I attended a neat demo for a new research tool, Accelovation. Although this effort appears to be semantic search of academic resources on steroids, my question is ... so what? Are academic sources becoming irrelevant? Do younger engineers have the same tendency to publish white papers and journal articles as their older brethren? Are professional blogs and wikis where one finds leading edge information on new research?
While I don't know the answer to this final question, I did Google the issue. As things often turn out, I was pondering a trend which others have studied. You may learn more via the National Science Foundation's study, American Science Plateau, as reported by Inside Higher Ed. Here is a quote from the July 20, 2007 article:
"The National Science Foundation released a pair of reports on Wednesday about the decline in the American share of published articles in science and engineering worldwide — not exactly surprising in light of the growing influence of scientists from Asia and Europe.
What the studies found, however, was that besides the well-known decrease in the relative share of journal articles originating from the United States, there was a slowdown in absolute numbers as well. This “plateau,” as the reports call it, began in the early 1990s and stands in marked contrast to at least the two previous decades’ worth of American research.
The flattening of growth in science and engineering publishing — it has “essentially remained constant since 1992,” according to the first report — remains partly a mystery. The report also asserts that there hasn’t been a corresponding decrease in “resource inputs,” such as funding and research staff, that might stunt the growth of American output in scholarly journals. And the plateau is seen across multiple disciplines within the sciences."
While there is much of interest in this report, I find the fact that the fall off can NOT be attributed to a decline of "resource inputs". Thus, for the moment, I will continue with my search optimization strategies.