Adoption of ICTs by Communication Researchers for Scientific Diffusion and Data Analysis

Carlos Arcila Calderón

Comunicación larga
Humanidades digitales – pedagogía y currículo

Contemporary science has increased the use of computers for knowledge discovery, but also for scientific diffusion and collaboration (Hey & Trefethen, 2005; Nielsen, 2012; Hey, Tansley & Tolle, 2009; Borgman, 2007; Dutton, 2010). There is an increasing interest in studying the adoption and use of ICTs by researchers in different disciplines (Pearce, 2010; Procter & al., 2010; Ponte & Simon, 2011; Dutton & Meyer, 2008; Briceño, Arcila & Said, 2012; Arcila, Piñuel & Calderin, 2013), given the consensus about the impact of these technologies on scientific methods and practices (Dutton, 2010; Hey & Trefethen, 2005; Borgman, 2007; Nielsen, 2012). To the best of our knowledge, there is not previous research that describes the way in which international community of researchers in the area of communication and media studies adopts ICTs for their scientific work.

This study examines the actual use of ICTs by communication and media researchers for scientific diffusion and data analysis. Specifically, we wonder: to what extent does the international community of Communication Researchers adopt ICTs for scientific diffusion and data analysis? (RQ1).  In line with the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT and UTAUT2) (Venkatesh, Morris, Davis & Davis, 2003; Venkatesh, Thong, & Xu, 2012) we posit that performance expectancy (the degree to which an individual believes that using the system will help him or her to attain gains in job performance) has a significant influence on actual use of ICTs(H1). Given the importance of variables gender and age we propose that the effect of performance expectancy on actual use of ICTs is moderated by age, such that the effect will be stronger for younger researchers (H2.1) and that this effect is also moderated by gender, such that the effect will be stronger for male researchers (H2.2). Additionally, based on previous studies (Procter et al., 2010; Arcila, 2013; Barjak et al., 2010) we posit that in academic contexts Scientific collaboration has a significant influence on actual use of ICTs (H3).

Survey data were collected from members of the International Communication Association (ICA) (n=295).  Before the application of the questionnaire, we conducted a panel of experts in order to assure content validity and we estimated test-retest reliability. Once the data were collected, we assessed the validity of the constructs through an exploratory factorial analysis (EFA) and their internal consistency reliability.  To address RQ1 we conducted descriptive analysis of data. In the case of H1 and H3, Multiple Linear Regression analysis estimated by Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) was carried out. To address H2.1 and H2.2, we ran a moderation analysis with SPSS macro PROCESS (Model 2), developed by Hayes (2013).

According to the findings, adoption rate averages of most of the tools were close to the median, except for Twitter, Grids and Simulation Software. Consistent with past research and the UTAUT, we found that performance expectancy is a predictor of adoption, though this relation was not moderated by age and gender. In the case of scholarly environments, we found that scientific collaboration is a stronger predictor of actual use.

This study provides empirical evidence to support performance expectancy as an important predictor in ICT adoption but proposes to include scientific collaboration as a determinant in scientific and scholarly environments. Future research may replicate this survey in other disciplines and contexts with larger samples.  In terms of practical implications, our study suggests that sensitization campaigns might be appropriated to increase performance expectancies among researchers, informing the benefits of ICT use in research. Campaigns can be accompanied by direct education to local experts and leaders in computed-based discovery, thus they can promote ICT use within the particular field. In addition, funding programs and scholarly accreditations might promote scientific collaboration through international calls and co-authorship recognition, respectively. As earlier discussed, this kind of collaboration significantly increases ICT use for scientific discovery and diffusion.


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