WILLINGNESS OF RUSSIAN RESEARCHERS TO DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION: BASIC DIGITAL LITERACY AND ADVANCED SKILLS

  • The authors:
    Natalia A. Shmatko
    Galina L. Volkova
  • Issue: July 24-26th, 2019
  • Pages: 616-625
  • Section: DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES IN CONTEMPORARY SCIENCE COMMUNICATION: PROBLEMS AND PERSPECTIVES
  • URL: http://conference-ifl.rudn.ru/616-625/
  • DOI:
    10.22363/09669-2019-616-625

Abstract. The development of information technologies and rapid growth in
the volume of accumulated data makes it necessary to develop new
scientific approaches, technologies and methods for collecting, processing
and storing information. Digitalization has significantly affected people
employed in science and technology: the ability to work with large amounts
of information, the knowledge of statistics, and the ability to correctly
publish research results became crucially important. For researchers the
possession of digital skills signifies the confident use of new data analysis
tools and implementation of new technologies.
Research practices and competencies of Russian doctorate holders are
examined within the framework of the project “Monitoring survey of Highly
Qualified R&D Personnel” (National Research University Higher School of
Economics, 2010-2019). One of the objectives of the project was to assess
the readiness of Russian researchers for digital transformation and to found
out to what extent modern digital technologies have taken over the activities
of Russian Doctorate holders. It was analyzed whether Russian scientists are
familiar with modern digital terminology, whether they apply modern data
processing tools in practice and whether they are ready to improve own
digital skills.
The sample included the total of 2061 Russian Doctorate holders,
representing all fields of science, and employed in the academic sector
(research institutes and universities), as well as in industrial and service
sector companies.
The professional activity of most Russian Doctorate holders is associated
with the regular use of information technologies. Among the surveyed PhD
holders, 85% reported that they regularly use computers and the Internet,
another 10% use them periodically. But scientific work involves not only
basic computer skills, but also advanced data analysis tools. Our results
show that less than half of Russian Doctorate holders are aware of modern
digital technologies, except for Big Data Analysis. Moreover, a number of
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DOI: 10.22363/09669-2019-616-625
digital tools and technologies are well-known, but have not yet found
widespread practical application.
The “digital outlook” can come from the general erudition of the Doctorate
holder or from the practical experience of using various digital tools:
researchers can be clearly divided into “abstractly informed” and
“practitioners”. Employees of research institutes, who are more aware of the
meaning of digital terminology, use new digital technologies much less
frequently than their colleagues from universities and the non-academic
sector. A similar situation is observed when comparing age groups: while
the youngest scientists are more often aware of the meaning of digital terms,
middle-aged and older scientists, if they know the digital technologies, also
quite often use them in practice.
Every third Doctorate holder in Russia at least occasionally uses Big Data
analysis, every fourth – Data Mining, User interface design, Cloud and
distributed computing, every fifth – Text Mining, Machine Learning,
Applied Mathematical Optimization.
The use of particular digital technologies varies according to the type of
organization: User Interface Design is more often practiced outside the
academic sector, while Big Data Analysis and Machine Learning are more
actively used by Doctorate holders employed in research institutes and
universities. The biggest number of employees who deal with Mobile
Application Development appeared in the research Institutes.
The most advanced digital users are those who specialized in natural
sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences, and mathematics; PhD
holders in agriculture are the least informed.
A significant part of Russian scientists already have experience in
improving their digital skills by taking part in various computer courses.
Over the last 3 years, every fifth Doctorate holder (18.9%) attended
computer courses. However, emphasizing digital skills, it is important not to
forget about the importance of soft and hard skills, that employers expect
from researchers.
Keywords: Digital skills, digital literacy, researchers, doctorate holders,
lifelong learning

Natalia A. Shmatko1, Galina L. Volkova2
1
National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE),
Moscow, Russia, e-mail: nshmatko@hse.ru
ORCID ID: 0000-0001-5369-0752
2
National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE),
Moscow, Russia, e-mail: gvolkova@hse.ru

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