Abstract - The Information Society 21(1)

Information and Communication Technology Challenges to Scientific Professional Identity

Roberta Lamb and Elizabeth Davidson

Increasingly, information and communication technology (ICT) uses are transforming professional activities and interactions in ways that challenge traditional assumptions about professional identity. In this paper, we consider the ways in which the professional identities of research scientists in oceanography and marine biology are shaped by the use of ICTs. We draw empirical data from an ongoing study of scientific research collaborations that examines uses of basic communication technologies, as well as scientific technologies with embedded ICT components. Our analysis suggests that development and use of ICT-enabled scientific technologies are identity enhancing for many scientists, facilitating their development of unique areas of scientific knowledge. ICT-related changes in data collection, collaborative coordination and scientific interaction also challenge traditional definitions of expertise and professional identity. An examination of these challenges directs attention to the project identities that form around ICT-enabled scientific technologies and the ways that those project identities are enacted through ICTs.

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