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Formal/informal sources

May 6, 2009

Commenting on the often circuitous routes that scientists may take to find reliable information (i.e. – not the formal routes but personal connections:

“it was hoped that this procedure would, on the one hand, illumine the operation of the informal avenues of communication, and that it would, on the other hand, point up the services which the formal reference facilities fail to perform. Eventually, such knowledge may may suggest ways of having the formal facilities do more adequately the job they presently fail to do.”

“It is to be hoped that most searches for information lead to their goal less circuitously, at least when the goal is so close at hand.  It is worth noting that the informal source of information, once located, proved very effective.  This episode indicates that much would be gained if finding the right personal source of information could be made more efficient.  It may well be possible to  make better formal arrangements for locating such informal source of information, even where it would not be practical or economical to have the actual information carried in the formal media.”

Barber and Hirsch, The Sociology of Science

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