A survey of scientists and social scientists in the US about their journal reading habits indicates that the trend of researchers reading more and more articles each year that began in 1977 is beginning to plateau, Nature News reports.
In 1977, researchers reported reading about 12 or 13 scholarly articles a month, spending about 48 minutes on each. Then in the 1980s and 1990s, researchers said they read more articles, but spent less time on each. The survey in 2005 noted a sharp uptick in the number of journal articles read, though with even less time — about 32 minutes — spent on each paper. In 2012, researchers reported reading an average 22 scholarly articles a month
"People have probably hit the limit of the time they have available to read articles," University of Tennessee's Carol Tenopir tells Nature News. This work is set to appear in Learned Publishing.
The survey also notes a shift from reading hard copies of journals to electronic versions. More than half of researchers read articles on an electronic screen, as compared to only a fifth in 2005.