I’m going to Brighton in July for the European Conference on Social Media ECSM 2014. I wrote a paper discussing a small part of the survey I conducted in 2013. The full paper should be published with the conference proceeding. Here is the accepted abstract.
Introduction: For academics, the methods of seeking information and sharing research work have been broadened dramatically since the development of internet and Web 2.0. Apart from online journals, academics may gather research information from various online services, such as wikis and Twitter. Social media tools have also provided novel distribution channels for research outputs. Rather than waiting for the long process of publishing in peer-reviewed journals, academics may share ongoing research on research blogs and other social media platforms.
Methods: An internet survey was conducted with 1829 researchers from 12 Russell Group universities. Comparing to the data sourced from the HESA, our sample of UK academics was broadly representative of the UK academic population as defined by our primary demographic variables of gender, discipline area and age.
Findings: The vast majority of respondents never used Twitter (84%), blogs (84%) or social networking sites (81%) to publish ongoing research updates or contributed to public wikis (84%). In total 30% of respondents had experience in sharing ongoing research updates on social media to some extent. Only 16% of respondents reported having used Twitter and 20% reported having used social networking sites to gather research information. However, 60% of respondents reported having read research blogs and 77% reported having read public wikis. Compared to the findings of a similar study, the percentage of academics who reported using Twitter in their research work increased from 10% in 2009 to 21% in 2013.
• Respondents in Social Sciences and Humanities were more likely to gather research information as well as post ongoing research updates online than those in Sciences disciplines. However, respondents in Natural Sciences were more likely to read a public wiki as well as contribute to a public wiki in their research work than those in Medical Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities.
• Older respondents were more likely to be non-adopters of social media services for both seeking and sharing research information.
• Women seemed to be slightly more likely to adopt Twitter to post ongoing research updates and the gender difference was only significant for junior researchers and respondents in Natural Sciences disciplines.
• Men appeared to be more likely to contribute to a public wiki in their research work and this gender difference was only significant for early to mid career researchers and respondents in Medical Sciences, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences.
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