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.
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.
Using social media to disseminate academic work
Openness and Impact inAcademia Using SocialMediaJane Tinkler, LSE Public Policy GroupLondon School of EconomicsCritical Perspectives on ‘Open-ness’ in the Digital University,Edinburgh University, November 2012
Traditional academic communication isfairly ‘closed’• Core set of journal articles, conference papers, books andchapters, 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 rarelypicked up by the media.• The texts of books and articles are inaccessible to thosewithout subscription/library access.• Outputs are often fairly long and in language that issometimes meaningful only to other academics.• This reflects a one-way (experts only) communicationsprocess.
Digital academic communication can bemore ‘open’• Growth of ejournal subscriptions and ebooks that can beaccessed simultaneously by student groups as well asthose working off-site.• University websites and online depositories hostacademic research for those outside the academy whowant to read them.• The ‘academic spring’ pressure for research to be openaccess has gathered pace and now some funders and theUK government are supporting this move.• Universities and academics are taking up opportunitiesprovided by social media for communication anddissemination on the back of the ‘impact agenda’.
How does using social media help makeyour research more ‘open’?1. Put very simply, it allows more people to read your research.
A teamfrom the World Bank examined the influence ofeconomicblogs on download figuresfor articles
A teamfrom NCRM compared the effectof twitterandothercommunication channels on a paper’s downloads
An individual academicused twitterto share a link toher work
How does using social media help makeyour 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 somesectors where debates are increasingly taking place online.
Overall11% of externalreferencesto academicworkinour datasetwere from blogs0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10EconomicsIRBusiness/ManagementGeographyPolitical ScienceSociologySocial PolicyAnthropologyLawHistoryPsychologyPhilosophyMedia% external refs from blogs
How does using social media help makeyour 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 somesectors where debates are increasingly taking place online.3. It also helps you to read more (or more wisely) within yourdiscipline, as well as in ‘near’ subjects.4. Which can lead to increased collaborations with otheracademics outside your usual networks. Our research hasshown cross-disciplinary, multi-authored and multi-institutional works have more impact.
Collaboration leads to increased citations0200400600800100012000 1 2 3 4 5 6 ormoreNumberofOutputsNumber of Co-authorsCo-authorship andNumber of Outputs010002000300040005000600070000 1 2 3 4 5 6 ormoreCitationsreceivedNumber of Co-authorsCo-authorship andCitationsMost outputs in our datasetwere single authored, butmore cites went to outputsthat had at least one otherauthor
How does using social media help makeyour 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 somesectors where debates are increasingly taking place online.3. It also helps you to read more (or more wisely) within yourdiscipline, as well as in ‘near’ subjects.4. Which can lead to increased collaborations with otheracademics outside your usual networks. Our research hasshown multi-authored, multi-institutional works have moreimpact.5. Being part of an academic online community = eventpublicity, support, guidance, fact-checking and more.
Open-ness and impact1. The first step towards creating impact is making yourresearch more open and visible.2. Use freely available tools to create a public profile for youand your work.
Open-ness and impact1. The first step towards impact is making your research moreopen and visible.2. Use freely available tools to create a public profile for youand your work.3. Make full use of your university’s resources (like onlinedepositories, Expert directories, knowledge transferschemes).4. Build communication and dissemination plans into researchprojects early on.5. Work with stakeholders and intermediary organisations tohelp make your research more open.6. BUT be realistic as to what you can expect.
Just over a quarter of academic referenceswere from external sourcesUniversity departments (20%)Academicpublishersand journals(20%)All libraries(14%)Digital aggregators (4%)Academicassocs. andsocieties(7%)Independentthink tanks(4%)Media andpress(5%)Civil society and thirdsector(7%)Govt & policy(5%)Privatesector(3%)Individs(4%)Univ.centresandinstits.(7%)DigitalresearchdatabasesAcademicresearchandengagement
Does ‘open-ness’ have drawbacks?1. The focus on dissemination and impact can feel like a newresponsibility in addition to all the other things you do as anacademic.
Time pressures and lack of resources are realconstraints on open-ness and impactHigher EducationInstitutionPrivate / public / thirdsector organisation Lack of time Bureaucracy and inflexibility ofHEI administration Difficulties in identifying partners Insufficient rewards and lack ofawareness of the benefits fromthe interactions Lack of understanding byacademics of the process Capacity and capability of the KEsystem still developing / evolving Lack of resources withinexternal organisations to fundthe KE engagement Insufficient benefits from theinteraction Lack of interest by externalorganisations and lack ofdemand for KE Intellectual propertyagreements as a barrier tosome, albeit minority of, KEengagementSource: PACEC/CBR Survey of Academics (2008); PACEC/CBR Survey ofEnterprise Offices (2010); CBR Survey of Enterprises (2008)
Does ‘open-ness’ have drawbacks?1. The focus on dissemination and impact can feel like a newresponsibility in addition to all the other things you do as anacademic.2. If you start a blog or create a twitter feed for a project, youneed to keep these up which takes times and resources.3. Being open with your research methods, stakeholders orfindings could place restrictions on what you feel you cansay.4. Moderating the quality of discussion and debate via socialmedia tools can be hard. This can’t replace peer review butsome quality assurances can be built into how social mediais used.5. You can receive instant feedback on your work, and it is allpublic. Can be very nerve-wracking for individual academicsand universities.
For more see:Maximising the Impacts of your Research: A handbook for socialscientistsUsing Twitter in University Research, Teaching andImpact Activities: A guide for academics andresearchersFreely available to download from theImpact of Social Sciences blog:http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/Email: email@example.comTwitter: @lseimpactblogFacebook: Impact of Social Sciences