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Using social media to disseminate academic work

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Tinkler, J. (2013) 'Openness and Impact in Academia Using Social Media'. Presentation to the Critical Perspectives on ‘Open-ness’ in the Digital University conference,
Edinburgh University, November 2012.

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Using social media to disseminate academic work

  1. 1. Openness and Impact in Academia Using Social Media Jane Tinkler, LSE Public Policy Group London School of Economics Critical Perspectives on ‘Open-ness’ in the Digital University, Edinburgh University, November 2012
  2. 2. Traditional academic communication is fairly ‘closed’ • Core set of journal articles, conference papers, books and chapters, and occasional book reviews. • Journal articles and books are read by some in your field, but don’t often break into other disciplines and are rarely picked up by the media. • The texts of books and articles are inaccessible to those without subscription/library access. • Outputs are often fairly long and in language that is sometimes meaningful only to other academics. • This reflects a one-way (experts only) communications process.
  3. 3. Digital academic communication can be more ‘open’ • Growth of ejournal subscriptions and ebooks that can be accessed simultaneously by student groups as well as those working off-site. • University websites and online depositories host academic research for those outside the academy who want to read them. • The ‘academic spring’ pressure for research to be open access has gathered pace and now some funders and the UK government are supporting this move. • Universities and academics are taking up opportunities provided by social media for communication and dissemination on the back of the ‘impact agenda’.
  4. 4. How does using social media help make your research more ‘open’? 1. Put very simply, it allows more people to read your research.
  5. 5. A teamfrom the World Bank examined the influence of economicblogs on download figuresfor articles
  6. 6. A teamfrom NCRM compared the effectof twitterand othercommunication channels on a paper’s downloads
  7. 7. An individual academicused twitterto share a link to her work
  8. 8. How does using social media help make your research more ‘open’? 1. Put very simply, it allows more people to read your research. 2. This is especially the case for some disciplines and some sectors where debates are increasingly taking place online.
  9. 9. Overall11% of externalreferencesto academicworkin our datasetwere from blogs 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Economics IR Business/Management Geography Political Science Sociology Social Policy Anthropology Law History Psychology Philosophy Media % external refs from blogs
  10. 10. Referencesto academicworkin blogs vary widelyby sector 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Government Think tanks Private sector Media/press Civil society % external refs from blogs
  11. 11. How does using social media help make your research more ‘open’? 1. Put very simply, it allows more people to read your research. 2. This is especially the case for some disciplines and some sectors where debates are increasingly taking place online. 3. It also helps you to read more (or more wisely) within your discipline, as well as in ‘near’ subjects. 4. Which can lead to increased collaborations with other academics outside your usual networks. Our research has shown cross-disciplinary, multi-authored and multi- institutional works have more impact.
  12. 12. Collaboration leads to increased citations 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 or more NumberofOutputs Number of Co-authors Co-authorship and Number of Outputs 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 or more Citationsreceived Number of Co-authors Co-authorship and Citations Most outputs in our dataset were single authored, but more cites went to outputs that had at least one other author
  13. 13. How does using social media help make your research more ‘open’? 1. Put very simply, it allows more people to read your research. 2. This is especially the case for some disciplines and some sectors where debates are increasingly taking place online. 3. It also helps you to read more (or more wisely) within your discipline, as well as in ‘near’ subjects. 4. Which can lead to increased collaborations with other academics outside your usual networks. Our research has shown multi-authored, multi-institutional works have more impact. 5. Being part of an academic online community = event publicity, support, guidance, fact-checking and more.
  14. 14. Open-ness and impact 1. The first step towards creating impact is making your research more open and visible. 2. Use freely available tools to create a public profile for you and your work.
  15. 15. Create a Google Scholar Citation profile
  16. 16. Open-ness and impact 1. The first step towards impact is making your research more open and visible. 2. Use freely available tools to create a public profile for you and your work. 3. Make full use of your university’s resources (like online depositories, Expert directories, knowledge transfer schemes). 4. Build communication and dissemination plans into research projects early on. 5. Work with stakeholders and intermediary organisations to help make your research more open. 6. BUT be realistic as to what you can expect.
  17. 17. Just over a quarter of academic references were from external sources University departments (20%) Academic publishers and journals (20%) All libraries (14%) Digital aggregators (4%) Academic assocs. and societies (7%) Independent think tanks (4%) Media and press (5%) Civil society and third sector (7%) Govt & policy (5%) Private sector (3%) Individs (4%) Univ. centres and instits. (7%) Digital research databases Academicresearchandengagement
  18. 18. Does ‘open-ness’ have drawbacks? 1. The focus on dissemination and impact can feel like a new responsibility in addition to all the other things you do as an academic.
  19. 19. Time pressures and lack of resources are real constraints on open-ness and impact Higher Education Institution Private / public / third sector organisation  Lack of time  Bureaucracy and inflexibility of HEI administration  Difficulties in identifying partners  Insufficient rewards and lack of awareness of the benefits from the interactions  Lack of understanding by academics of the process  Capacity and capability of the KE system still developing / evolving  Lack of resources within external organisations to fund the KE engagement  Insufficient benefits from the interaction  Lack of interest by external organisations and lack of demand for KE  Intellectual property agreements as a barrier to some, albeit minority of, KE engagement Source: PACEC/CBR Survey of Academics (2008); PACEC/CBR Survey of Enterprise Offices (2010); CBR Survey of Enterprises (2008)
  20. 20. Does ‘open-ness’ have drawbacks? 1. The focus on dissemination and impact can feel like a new responsibility in addition to all the other things you do as an academic. 2. If you start a blog or create a twitter feed for a project, you need to keep these up which takes times and resources. 3. Being open with your research methods, stakeholders or findings could place restrictions on what you feel you can say. 4. Moderating the quality of discussion and debate via social media tools can be hard. This can’t replace peer review but some quality assurances can be built into how social media is used. 5. You can receive instant feedback on your work, and it is all public. Can be very nerve-wracking for individual academics and universities.
  21. 21. For more see: Maximising the Impacts of your Research: A handbook for social scientists Using Twitter in University Research, Teaching and Impact Activities: A guide for academics and researchers Freely available to download from the Impact of Social Sciences blog: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/ Email: impactofsocialsciences@lse.ac.uk Twitter: @lseimpactblog Facebook: Impact of Social Sciences

Editor's Notes

  • David McKenzie and Berk Özler (2011) ‘Academic blogs are proven to increase dissemination of economic research and improve impact.’ LSE Impact of Social Science blog. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2011/11/15/world-bank-dissemination/.15 November 2011.
  • Kaisa Puustinen and Rosalind Edwards (2012) ‘Who gives a tweet? After 24 hours and 860 downloads, we think quite a few actually do’. LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2012/05/18/who-gives-a-tweet-860-downloads/. 18 May
  • Terras, M. (2012) ‘The Impact of Social Media on the Dissemination of Research: Results of an Experiment’, Journal of Digital Humanities, 1 (3)http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/1-3/the-impact-of-social-media-on-the-dissemination-of-research-by-melissa-terras/
  • As part of the Impact of Social Sciences project, we have tracked the external impacts of 360 academics via their digital footprint. Across the 14,000 external to university references we found for this set of academics, overall 11% of them were from blogs.
  • Of the roughly 4,000 outputs that had been produced by our dataset of academics, the largest number were single authored publications. However, the outputs that had at least one other author received the most citations. We don’t really know why this is, but we assume its that the more authors, the more contacts and larger networks a research publication can be disseminated to. (This may change slightly across disciplines.)
  • Social media is now a major aspect of more traditional forms of academic communication such as event publicity. Podcasting lectures, live tweeting events as well as live and recording videostreams are all now used across universities. There has been some interesting debates on the blog on the positive and negative aspects of live tweeting events but definitely open up the discussion to a wider audience. We know that there is a great appetite out there for academic ideas. The LSE’s Public Lecture Programme podcasts all their lectures and now has over 19 million downloads per year (via the LSE site, iTunes U and YouTube) Finally, its tough times for academics. Social media can be used as a source of support and guidance for individual academics.
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