Research style : the development and explication of a behavioural construct explaining scientist' professional behavior



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The dynamics of scientific research have undergone major changes within the past 30 years as a result of the tremendous growth of science over this time period. One of the consequences of this growth has been the development of highly differentiated subdisciplines and specialties characteristic of the natural sciences at the present time. With this differentiation has come a related problem: How are the differentiated specialties of science integrated? More specifically: What role does the individual scientist assume in the synthesis of research findings of differentiated subdisciplines of science? The purpose of this study was to investigate the role assumed by the individual scientist in this process of integration. A behavior construct, labeled 'research style', was developed to describe, in a Gestalt manner, the set of behavioral activities by which a scientist selects, defines, and attacks a problem in science. The principal proposition of this study was that a scientist's role and information-seeking behavior is influenced to a large extent by his research style. His research style, in turn, was proposed to be uniquely defined by psychological and behavioral factors developed through past experience and exposure to various professional environments. Scientists actively involved in a large-scale, government-sponsored science program were surveyed by questionnaire about their perceptions of their own research methods, their selection of information sources, the roles they assumed in their work, and their degree of involvement in these roles. Biographical and descriptive information concerning each scientist was also obtained. Results of the data analysis demonstrated the Integrity of research style as a separable behavior construct. The data analyzed gave at least some support to the predictions that scientists who scored high on measures of research style spent more time in professional activities, spent more time away from their home institutions, and served on more science advisory panels than scientists who scored low on measures of research style. Some support was also given to predictions that the high scoring scientist read more professional journals and reports, had an informal communication network that penetrated more disciplinary areas, and was consulted more frequently by his colleagues.