Academics are increasingly encouraged to use social media in their professional lives. Social networking sites are one type of tool within this; the ability to connect with others through this medium may offer benefits in terms of reaching novel audiences, enhancing research impact, discovering collaborators, and drawing on a wider network of expertise and knowledge. However, little research has focused on the role of these sites in practice, and their relationship to academics’ formal roles and institutions. This paper presents an analysis of 18 interviews carried out with academics in order to discuss their online networks (at either Academia.edu or ResearchGate, and Twitter) and to understand the relationship between their online networks and formal academic identity. Several strategies underpinning academics’ use of the sites were identified, including: circumventing institutional constraints, extending academic space, finding a niche, promotion and impact, and academic freedom. These themes also provide a bridge between academic identity development online and institutional roles, with different priorities for engaging with online networks being associated with different career stages.
- digital identity,
- academic identity,
- digital scholarship,
- social networking sites,
- higher education
Download the article in PDF to read it.
- Ahmad Kharman Shah, N. (2015). Factors influencing academics’ adoption and use of Twitter in UK Higher Education (Doctoral dissertation, University of Sheffield, UK). Retrieved from http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/11505
- Almousa, O. (2011, December 6-8). Users' classification and usage-pattern identification in academic social networks. Paper presented at the 2011 IEEE Jordan conference on Applied Electrical Engineering and Computing Technologies (AEECT), Amman, Jordan. doi: 10.1109/AEECT.2011.6132525
- Bastian, M., Heymann, S., & Jacomy, M. (2009). Gephi: An open source software for exploring and manipulating networks. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (pp. 361-362). Palo Alto, USA: AAAI.
- Bennett, L., & Folley, S. (2014). A tale of two doctoral students: Social media tools and hybridised identities, Research in Learning Technology, 22, 1-10. doi: 10.3402/rlt.v22.23791
- Carpenter, J. Wetheridge, L., & Smith, N. (2010). Researchers of tomorrow: Annual report 2009-2010, London: British Library/JISC. Retrieved from https://www.jisc.ac.uk/reports/researchers-of-tomorrow
- Cohen, J. (1960). A coefficient of agreement for nominal scales. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 20(1), 37-46. doi: 10.1177/001316446002000104
- Dominguez, S. & Hollstein, B. (Eds.). (2014). Mixed methods social networks research: Design and application. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Edwards, G. (2010). Mixed-method approaches to social network analysis (Discussion Paper ID 842). Southampton: National Centre for Research Methods. Retrieved from http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/842/
- Ellison, N. (2013). Future identities: Changing identities in the UK - the next 10 years. London: Government Office for Science. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/275752/13-505-social-media-and-identity.pdf
- Espinoza Vasquez, F.K., & Caicedo Bastidas, C.E. (2015). Academic social networking sites: A comparative analysis of their services and tools. Paper presented at iConference 2015, Newport Beach, USA. Retrieved from https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/73715/380_ready.pdf?sequence=2
- Esposito, A. (2014). The transition 'from student to researcher’ in the digital age: Exploring the affordances of emerging ecologies of the PhD e-researchers. (Doctoral dissertation, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10609/41741
- Esposito, A. (2015, September). PhD researchers using social media: Trajectories of academic identities. Presentation at academic identity in the digital university: current trends and future challenges. The Society for Research in Higher Education, London, UK.
- Fleiss, J.L. (1981). Statistical methods for rates and proportions (2nd ed). New York: John Wiley.
- Fransman, J. (2013). Becoming academic in the digital age: representations of academic identity in the online profiles of early career researchers. London: Society for Research in Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www.srhe.ac.uk/downloads/FRANSMAN_Final_Report.pdf
- Gruzd, A., Staves, K., & Wilk, A. (2011) Tenure and promotion in the age of online social media. Paper presented at the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T 2011) Annual Meeting, New Orleans, USA. doi: 10.1002/meet.2011.14504801154
- Hale, S.A. (2012, November 15). Build your own interactive network (Blog post). Interactive Visualizations. Retrieved from http://blogs.oii.ox.ac.uk/vis/?p=191
- Hoffmann, C.P., Lutz, C., & Meckel, M. (2015) A relational altmetric? Network centrality on ResearchGate as an indicator of scientific impact. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 67(4), 765-775. doi: 10.1002/asi.23423
- Hogan, B., & Wellman, B. (2014). The relational self-portrait: Selfies meet social networks. In M. Graham & W.H. Dutton (Eds.) Society & the Internet: How networks of information and communication are changing our lives (pp. 53-66). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Hyland, K. (2011). The presentation of self in scholarly life: Identity and marginalization in academic homepages. English for Specific Purposes, 30(4), 286-297. doi: 10.1016/j.esp.2011.04.004
- Hyland, K. (2013). Individuality or conformity? Identity in personal and university homepages. Computers & Composition, 29(4), 309-322. doi: 10.1016/j.compcom.2012.10.002
- Jordan, K. (2014). Academics and their online networks: Exploring the role of academic social networking sites. First Monday, 19(11). Retrieved from https://firstmonday.org/article/view/4937/4159
- Jordan, K. (2017). Understanding the structure and role of academics’ ego-networks on social networking sites (Doctoral dissertation, The Open University, UK). Retrieved from http://oro.open.ac.uk/48259/
- Jordan, K. (2018, December 5-7). Networked selves and networked publics in academia: Exploring academic online identity through sharing on social media platforms. Paper presented at the Annual Society for Research in Higher Education Conference, Newport, Wales. Retrieved from http://oro.open.ac.uk/58548/
- Jordan, K. (2019). Separating and merging professional and personal selves online: the structure and processes which shape academics’ ego-networks on academic social networking sites and Twitter. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, early view. doi: 10.1002/asi.24170
- Jordan, K., & Weller, M. (2018) Communication, collaboration and identity: Factor analysis of academics’ perceptions of online networking. Research in Learning Technology, 26, 2013. doi: 10.25304/rlt.v26.2013
- Kimmons, R. (2014). Social networking sites, literacy, and the authentic identity problem. TechTrends, 58(2), 93-98. doi: 10.1007/s11528-014-0740-y
- Kimmons, R., & Veletsianos, G. (2014). The fragmented educator 2.0: Social networking sites, acceptable identity fragments, and the identity constellation. Computers & Education, 72, 292-301. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.12.001
- Manca, S., & Ranieri, M. (2016) “Yes for sharing, no for teaching!”: Social Media in academic practices. The Internet and Higher Education, 29, 63-74. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2015.12.004
- McAlpine, L., & Akerlind, G.S. (2010). Becoming an academic: International perspectives. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Menendez, M., de Angeli, A., & Menestrina, Z. (2012). Exploring the virtual space of academia. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on the Design of Cooperative Systems (pp. 49-62). London: Springer-Verlag.
- Morse, J. (2007). Theoretical saturation. In M.S. Lewis-Beck, A. Bryman, & T.F. Liao (Eds.) The SAGE encyclopaedia of social science research methods (pp. 1122-1123). London: SAGE.
- Stewart, B. (2015). Scholarship in abundance: Influence, engagement, and attention in scholarly networks. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Canada). Retrieved from http://bonstewart.com/Scholarship_in_Abundance.pdf
- Strauss A.L., & Corbin J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. London: SAGE.
- Thelwall, M., & Kousha, K. (2013). Academia.edu: Social network or academic network? Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 65(4), 721-731. doi: 10.1002/asi.23038
- Thelwall, M., & Kousha, K. (2015) ResearchGate: Disseminating, communicating and measuring scholarship? Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 66(5), 876-889. doi: 10.1002/asi.23236
- Van Noorden, R. (2014). Online collaboration: Scientists and the social network, Nature, 512(7513). Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/news/onlinecollaboration-scientists-and-the-social-network-1.15711
- Veletsianos, G. (2016). Social media in education: Networked scholars. New York: Routledge.
- Wengraf, T. (2001). Qualitative research interviewing. London: SAGE.