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Studying technology use as social practice: the untapped potential of ethnography

Overview of attention for article published in BMC Medicine, April 2011
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (97th percentile)

Mentioned by

62 tweeters
1 Facebook page


80 Dimensions

Readers on

193 Mendeley
Studying technology use as social practice: the untapped potential of ethnography
Published in
BMC Medicine, April 2011
DOI 10.1186/1741-7015-9-45
Pubmed ID

Trisha Greenhalgh, Deborah Swinglehurst


Information and communications technologies (ICTs) in healthcare are often introduced with expectations of higher-quality, more efficient, and safer care. Many fail to meet these expectations. We argue here that the well-documented failures of ICTs in healthcare are partly attributable to the philosophical foundations of much health informatics research. Positivistic assumptions underpinning the design, implementation and evaluation of ICTs (in particular the notion that technology X has an impact which can be measured and reproduced in new settings), and the deterministic experimental and quasi-experimental study designs which follow from these assumptions, have inherent limitations when ICTs are part of complex social practices involving multiple human actors. We suggest that while experimental and quasi-experimental studies have an important place in health informatics research overall, ethnography is the preferred methodological approach for studying ICTs introduced into complex social systems. But for ethnographic approaches to be accepted and used to their full potential, many in the health informatics community will need to revisit their philosophical assumptions about what counts as research rigor.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 62 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 193 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United Kingdom 15 8%
United States 7 4%
Canada 2 1%
Netherlands 1 <1%
Senegal 1 <1%
Norway 1 <1%
Ireland 1 <1%
Brazil 1 <1%
New Zealand 1 <1%
Other 4 2%
Unknown 159 82%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 55 28%
Student > Master 36 19%
Researcher 34 18%
Student > Doctoral Student 11 6%
Student > Postgraduate 10 5%
Other 47 24%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Social Sciences 63 33%
Medicine and Dentistry 44 23%
Computer Science 21 11%
Business, Management and Accounting 10 5%
Psychology 10 5%
Other 45 23%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 38. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 07 August 2015.
All research outputs
of 12,819,602 outputs
Outputs from BMC Medicine
of 2,054 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 118,017 outputs
Outputs of similar age from BMC Medicine
of 4 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 12,819,602 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 96th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 2,054 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 34.1. This one has done well, scoring higher than 82% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 118,017 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 97% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 4 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than 2 of them.