The role of the Internet in informal scholarly communication.
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The present analysis looks at how scientists use the Internet for informal scientific communication. It investigates the relationship between several explanatory variables and Internet use in a cross-section of scientists from seven European countries and five academic disciplines (astronomy, chemistry, computer science, economics, and psychology). The analysis confirmed some of the results of previous U.S.-based analyses. In particular, it corroborated a positive relationship between research productivity and Internet use. The relationship was found to be nonlinear, with very productive (nonproductive) scientists using the Internet less (more) than would be expected according to their productivity. Also, being involved in collaborative R&D and having large networks of collaborators is associated with increased Internet use. In contrast to older studies, the analysis did not find any equalizing effect whereby higher Internet use rates help to overcome the problems of potentially disadvantaged researchers. Obviously, everybody who wants to stay at the forefront of research and keep up-to-date with developments in their research fields has to use the Internet.