Blog | Thursday, May 10, 2012

Would you read peer review journals on e-readers and tablets?

I recently became involved in redesigning the web presence of a journal of a national academic medical society. The company tasked with the web design process conducted a small number of interviews with current and potential journal readers. They interviewed 3 people, with various backgrounds, training levels and interests in technology.

Some of the responses on these interviews were quite interesting and maybe surprising. Here are two opinions that were quite unanimous.

1. Everyone wanted to have the ability to download articles as PDFs.
2. None of the respondents wanted to read the articles on a mobile device (even a large screen one like a tablet).

As I was pondering about this, I saw a piece about eBooks and whether they impact learning negatively. The article discusses how one uses one's visual memory to link information with its location in a text book and why this can help recall.

I had a great discussion on this article with some folks over on Google+. The piece also has a nice video of how people use visual channels to remember information.

This morning I saw a presentation by Michael A Mabe, CEO of International Association of STM Publishers, recorded at the UKSG 35th Annual Conference in Glasgow, March 2012. I found a link to this talk on posts on Google+ by two folks who are thinkers and terrific curators on information in my areas of interest, Bertalan Mesko and A.J. Cann. The presentation discusses what researchers and readers want in their academic publishing and why these needs have led to the current format of the print journal and why technology has not made much of a change in this format.

Just to make matters more interesting, I remembered reading a piece by Clay Shirky on Social reading. I had saved it to my Evernote and I dug it up again. It is titled "How we will read."

Clay talks about how when he used to read on the original Kindle it did not have e-mail to distract him. He mentions Nick Carr and the use of Frost's quote as a book is a "momentary stay against confusion". He talks wistfully of the times when he was bored and the importance of boredom as a way to recognize the gap between what you are interested in and your current environment. But he moves on to discuss the benefits of annotating on his new Kindle and the value of social reading.

Maybe with evolution of the appropriate apps on mobile devices and as readers experience them, we will change our habits? Here is an image from @gtuckerkellog describing his workflow for reading his scientific literature on tablets. TechCrunch has an article about how Netizine might be a solution.

Where did I read the Clay Shirky interview? On Evernote app on my Motorola Xoom of course!

Neil Mehta MBBS, MS, FACP, practices internal medicine at a large tertiary care hospital in Ohio. He is also the Director of Education Technology (Academic Computing) for his medical school and in charge of his hospital system's home grown Learning and Content Management System. He is interested in use of technology in education, social media and networking, practice management and evidence-based medicine tools, personal information and knowledge management. This post originally appeared at Technology in (Medical) Education.