The top three productivity barriers in scientific research and knowledge economy roles

As a STEM researcher or a professional working in the knowledge economy, time is your most precious commodity. However hard you try, though, there are always more publications to read and studies to catch up on. It’s tempting to give up, stop trawling and hope that someone else has already sifted through the latest research for you, but this strategy can mean you miss key developments in your field. In this blog post, we will discuss the biggest productivity issues for researchers and knowledge economy professionals when reviewing the latest research in their field. 

1. Skimming abstracts vs reading whole papers: imperfect solutions 

Over 2.5 million scientific papers are published every year, and it’s impossible to keep up with all the latest advancements. It takes at least 30 minutes, on average, to read a single paper, and longer for early-career researchers. It can be tempting to read the abstracts of papers, grasp the core ideas and skim through the rest, but this approach will only give you a partial overview of the study. Whether you end up short on time or detail, you’re not getting the full picture

2. It’s hard to find the right papers 

Researchers spend hours looking for the right papers, and the numbers of articles can be overwhelming. Once the search has been run, more time is lost to assessing the relevance and quality of a paper. This process causes delays, fatigue and frustration. Researchers often have to read multiple incremental studies related to the same findings before identifying the article most helpful to their research, and even a thorough delve into the literature may omit important papers. With multiple time pressures, from grant applications to teaching commitments and press deadlines, researchers need to work efficiently and productively. It’s unsurprising that many are turning to tools that reduce the seeking and sifting workload.

3. Indexing and abstracting solutions lack detail

Indexing and abstracting solutions can help busy scientists, clinicians and knowledge professionals stay connected to research outputs, but they are not without limits. These databases provide some information but lack the wider context crucial to each study. As new studies are constantly being published, it can be difficult to know which are relevant to the task at hand. If the best, most applicable studies are not quickly identified, we can waste time, follow false leads and miss opportunities.  Here again, a tool can assist in sorting publications for relevance. 

4. Doing too much at once

When you’re overwhelmed by the sheer amount of knowledge out there to sift through, it’s tempting to attempt do everything at once. There’s nothing wrong with trying to work efficiently and minimise future labour. But overloading your brain can cause immense stress, increase the likelihood of mistakes and impact your confidence and performance. 

It’s worth asking yourself how much more effective and productive you could be if you could reclaim the time and energy spent searching for and reading papers? SciencePOD wants researchers to do their best work, so we’ve created ScioWire, an innovative AI tool that generates detailed summaries of open research studies to keep you informed of the latest research advances. 

Read more about ScioWire in our next blog post to learn how it could impact your work.

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