SocialMediaLab.ca                “Making sense of a networked world”                                       Survey Results ...
February 1, 2012                                                                                                          ...
February 1, 2012                                                                            Page 3 of 10SUMMARY OF FINDING...
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February 1, 2012                                                                              Page 5 of 10SOCIAL MEDIA USA...
February 1, 2012                                                                                Page 6 of 10THE ADVANTAGES...
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February 1, 2012                                                                             Page 8 of 10METHODDefining So...
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February 1, 2012                                                                         Page 10 of 10ADDITIONAL PUBLICATI...
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Survey Results Highlights: Trends in Scholarly Communication and Knowledge Dissemination in the Age of Online Social Media

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Gruzd, A., Goertzen, M., and Mai, P. (2012, Feb. 1). Survey Results Highlights: Trends in Scholarly Communication and Knowledge Dissemination in the Age of Social Media. Social Media Lab Report, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada.

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Survey Results Highlights: Trends in Scholarly Communication and Knowledge Dissemination in the Age of Online Social Media

  1. 1. SocialMediaLab.ca “Making sense of a networked world” Survey Results Highlights Trends in Scholarly Communication and Knowledge Dissemination in the Age of Social Media This report is part of the Social Media Lab continuing efforts to examine how social media and online social networks are changing the ways scholars disseminate knowledge and information. This report is prepared by: Dr. Anatoliy Gruzd, Melissa Goertzen and Philip Mai at the School of Information Management, Dalhousie UniversityIt is no secret that social media has become mainstream in recent years, and theiradoption has skyrocketed. As a result of their growing popularity, numerous studieshave been conducted on how the general public is using social media. However, verylittle work has been done on how scholars are using and adapting to these new tools intheir professional life. In an attempt to fill this significant gap in the research literature,we recently conducted a comprehensive online survey to discover if, how and whyscholars are using these new media for communication and knowledge dissemination.In particular, we focussed on how academics in the social sciences use social mediatools for professional purposes, and the implications that this might have on the futureof scholarly communication and publishing practices in the age of online social media.Below are some highlights of the survey results. Other publications prepared as part ofthis research are listed in the Additional Publications section of this document. Citation for this report: Gruzd, A., Goertzen, M., and Mai, P. (2012, Feb. 1). Survey Results Highlights: Trends in Scholarly Communication and Knowledge Dissemination in the Age of Social Media. Social Media Lab Report, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada.
  2. 2. February 1, 2012 Page 2 of 10ContentsSUMMARY OF FINDINGS ............................................................................................................................... 3POPULAR SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS USED BY ACADEMIC COMMUNITIES ........................................................ 4SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE BY AGE GROUP ......................................................................................................... 5THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE IN PROFESSIONAL SETTINGS............ 6SOCIAL MEDIA AS A COMPONENT OF TENURE & PROMOTION REVIEWS ................................................... 7CONCLUSION................................................................................................................................................. 7METHOD........................................................................................................................................................ 8 Defining Social Media. .............................................................................................................................. 8 Sampling.................................................................................................................................................... 8 Online Survey. ........................................................................................................................................... 8RESPONDENTS’ DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION .......................................................................................... 9ADDITIONAL PUBLICATIONS ....................................................................................................................... 10ABOUT THE SOCIAL MEDIA LAB .................................................................................................................. 10ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................................................................................................................. 10
  3. 3. February 1, 2012 Page 3 of 10SUMMARY OF FINDINGSSurvey Participants: 367 respondents, primarily in Social Sciences (79%), working in the US, Canada, and UK (72%), of respondent came from one of three associations: American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR), and the International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA).1. Social Media tools are gaining acceptance and trust in academic circles. While Listserv Groups are still ranked as the most common means of communication among scholars, there is an increasing acceptance of blogs and microblogs as legitimate and trustworthy methods for gathering and dissemination of scholarly information. It was also discovered that tools, once hailed as the future of online communications, such as virtual worlds and social bookmarking are not widely used, and that interest in such tools for professional purposes is quite limited.2. Scholars use social media to keep up to date with the developments in their research areas. Although it was mentioned as one of the top reasons for using social media, networking with peers was not the top ranked reason. It appears that scholars value such social media tools more for their quick and easy access to information. However, the results also indicate that many scholars deemed the process of participating in social media for professional purposes as being time consuming and as a distraction that interferes with their ability to fulfill other professional responsibilities.3. Many academics like to read or comment on blog posts, but fewer are incline to maintain their ownblog. Reading and commenting on blogs maintained by other scholars has gained wide acceptance within the scholarly community and is deemed by many as a valuable (and often anonymous) way to remain current in their field of interest. However, our results also revealed that many academics simply do not have the time to spare for such an endeavor and even if they did, many are fearful of potential negative exposure from maintaining an active blog.4. Academic social networking sites are becoming more popular. Citing privacy concerns with non-academic social networking sites such as Facebook, many academics consider moving to academic social networks sites such as http://Academia.edu or http://ResearchGate.net. In addition, reference management and file/document sharing sites are increasing in popularity due to features that allow academics to share information with designated collaborative circles. Such tools are also disassociated from privacy concerns as they deal largely with bibliographic records, which are not deemed as personal or controversial.5. Only 8% of scholars surveyed stated that social media activities are counted towards tenure orpromotion reviews at their home institutions. Most respondent attributed this low level of recognition for social media contributions to the fact that social media scholarly output is not peer reviewed. However, many stated that the collaborative opportunities and relationships that result from social media activities may contribute to tenure or promotions indirectly due to increased academic output and opportunities for publication.
  4. 4. February 1, 2012 Page 4 of 10POPULAR SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS USED BY ACADEMIC COMMUNITIESOur survey results indicated that listserv groups remain the primary tools used by scholars for thepurpose of communication and knowledge dissemination. Out of 367 survey respondents, 338 (92%)stated that they actively (daily, weekly or monthly) reply on Listserv groups (see Figure 1). The statedprimary purpose for such activity is to follow research news published by professional peers.Social media tools are gaining traction among scholars. (For our definition of social media tools, see theMethod section on Page 8.) The study results indicated that many scholars use non-academic socialnetworking sites for professional purposes. Reading and commenting on other people’s blogs was thethird most popular social media-activity, followed by the use of online document management sites likeGoogle Docs, wikis (primarily Wikipedia) and media repositories like Flickr and Youtube.Virtual worlds, bibliographic management, presentation sharing and social bookmarking sites weresurprisingly the least popular social media tools. Active Once or twice a year Not yet, but I intend to in the future Never, and I do not plan to Not anymore Listserv groups 338 13 46 6 Non-academic social networks 311 20 12 21 3 Read/comment on blogs 310 35 9 121 Online document management 272 40 36 18 1 Wikis 271 45 21 25 4 Media repositories 267 44 30 24 2 Video/tele conferencing 253 64 38 93 Microblogs 208 20 50 79 10 Academic social networks 188 44 87 45 3 Maintain blogs 168 21 84 75 19 Social bookmarking tools 149 40 82 79 17 Presentation sharing sites 141 65 114 45 2 Bibliographic management sites 136 38 112 68 13 Virtual worlds 52 36 65 173 41 Source: SocialMediaLab.ca Figure 1. Ranking of Social Media Based on the Frequency of Use in Academic Communities for Professional Purposes
  5. 5. February 1, 2012 Page 5 of 10SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE BY AGE GROUPAlthough Millennials were slightly more likely to use online document management, wikis and mediarepositories (and less likely to use listservs); no significant differences were observed between the threeage groups: Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers (see Figure 2). Since only 10 people from the Silentgeneration completed the survey, no conclusive observations can be made for that group. Listserv groups Silent (65+) Non-academic social networks Read/comment on blogs Boomer (45-64) Online document management Wikis Gen X (30-44) Media repositories Millennial (18-29) 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Figure 2. Percentage of Active Users of Popular Social Media by Age Group
  6. 6. February 1, 2012 Page 6 of 10THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE INPROFESSIONAL SETTINGSThe three most often cited reasons why scholars are using social media tools are to stay informed about(1) topics relating to their areas of interest and (2) what their professional peers are doing as well as (3)to discover new ideas and publications (see Figure 3). It was interesting to note that social functions thatare usually associated with social media tools such as collaborating with other researchers ranked belowthe need for current information. The findings also suggest that social media tools are quickly gainingacceptance as a good place for scholars to promote their research and disseminate information.In terms of disadvantages of social media use, time consumption and distraction from professionalduties were ranked at the top of the list. Advantages Disadvantages Keeping up to date with topics Time consuming Following other researchers work Distracting from other duties Discovering new ideas or publications Threat of negative exposure Promoting current work/research Technological challenges Making new research contacts Copyright concerns Collaborating with other researchers Too accessible by the public Soliciting advice from peers Maintaining professional image Publishing findings Garnering mass media attention Discovering new funding opportunities Figure 3. Advantages and Disadvantages Associated with Social Media Use
  7. 7. February 1, 2012 Page 7 of 10SOCIAL MEDIA AS A COMPONENT OF TENURE & PROMOTION REVIEWSThe study results revealed that only 8% of therespondents stated that their home institutionsconsider social media activity towards tenure orpromotion reviews (see Figure 4). In many cases,social media contributions are considered ascommunity service activities rather than scholarlyoutput. The primary reason for such categorizationis the fact that social media posts are not subject toformal peer review, and as a result, can be difficultfor their home institution to quantify.While it is currently uncommon for social mediaactivities to be a component of professionalevaluation, respondents mentioned that socialmedia activities can indirectly increase chances of Figure 4. Does Social Media Activityachieving tenure or promotion because of theincreased exposure which in turn enhances Count Towards Tenure/Promotions?opportunities for collaboration with peers. Suchrelationships sometimes lead to co-authorship ofacademic papers or research projects that areconsidered as scholarly output.CONCLUSIONThe above are selected highlights from our recently completed online surveys of scholars. Journalarticles will be forthcoming. Some recent conference papers and a related journal article are listed inSection on “Additional Publications” of this report.While social media tools are relatively new to the world of academia, they have already proven to beinvaluable as a way for scholars to gather and share information with their peers, expand theircommunication networks and strengthen existing relationships. But it is still too early to tell whether theintroduction of social media tools will have a lasting effect on the production and dissemination ofscholarly information and knowledge.If you have any comments or suggestions regarding this study, please contact Dr. Anatoliy Gruzd atgruzd@dal.ca
  8. 8. February 1, 2012 Page 8 of 10METHODDefining Social Media. For the purposes of this study, we chose to refer to social media tools as anyweb-based websites that exemplify web 2.0 characteristics and contain some aspect of user generatedcontent. This allowed us to include a wide variety of technologies from video/tele-conferencing toolssuch as Skype and online media repositories such as Flickr to microblogging tools like Twitter and socialnetworking sites like Facebook and Academia.edu. Although listservs are not examples of social mediaand are not treated as social media for the purpose of this study, they do exhibit many characteristics ofmodern social media principles (unlike email) such as a community-driven approach to onlineconversations and a notion of membership to a group or network of like-minded individuals.Furthermore, since listservs have been considered one of the primary channels for informationdissemination and communication in scholarly communities for the last two decades, responses aboutlistservs provided us with the baseline. We chose to employ this broad definition to allow for the widestnumber of social media tools to be recognized. In doing this, we were able to gain the broadest view ofsocial media used by academics.Sampling. Respondents were recruited by way of listserv invitations from three associations: AmericanSociety for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR),and the International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA). ASIS&T and AoIR are interestingcases because most of the researchers in these groups are technologically savvy and tend to be earlyadopters. As for INSNA, it was chosen because the membership of this group is very diverse and hailsfrom various disciplines ranging from sociology to computer science. The main common thread that theyshare is an interest in using Social Network Analysis for their research. By studying INSNA, we are aimingto have a good cross-sample of researchers that would most likely represent other possible researchgroups, where the numbers of early adopters are expected to be smaller than in ASIS&T or AoIR.Online Survey. The data was collected using an online survey available from October 2010 to February2011. The survey was designed to determine which social media tools are most popular in academia, thereasons why respondents are using or not using such tools, and the benefits and problems scholarsassociate with these tools. The survey consisted of two main parts. The first part asked participantsabout their use of traditional and social media tools, their frequency of use and for what purposes. Thesecond part was primary designed to solicit more details from those respondents who frequently usesocial media tools, based on their choice of two most important social media tools in their work. If arespondent indicated that he/she does not use social media tools, the second part of the surveysolicited more information on reasons why not. Since the study primarily focuses on the use of socialmedia tools for communication and knowledge dissemination, the survey avoided asking directquestions about the use of social media for teaching purposes. Out of 504 respondents who started thesurvey, 367 people completed it.
  9. 9. February 1, 2012 Page 9 of 10RESPONDENTS’ DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION Demographic Number of Respondent Demographic Number of Respondent Category Respondents Percentage Category Respondents Percentage Country Age Group United States 186 51% Millennial (18-29) 86 23% Gen X (30-44) 193 53% Canada 52 14% Boomer (45-64) 73 20% United Kingdom 25 7% Silent (65+) 10 3% Germany 11 3% No answer 5 1% Australia 10 3% Gender Israel 7 2% Female 209 57% Ireland 5 1% Male 151 41% No answer 7 2% Sweden 5 1% Professional Position Belgium 4 1% Graduate student 141 38% Finland 4 1% Post-doctoral fellow 23 6% Italy 4 1% Researcher 39 11% Netherlands 4 1% Lecturer 19 5% Portugal 4 1% Senior Lecturer 7 2% Spain 4 1% Assistant Professor 68 19% Note: Countries with 1-3 respondents include: Algeria, Associate Professor 25 7% Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Denmark, Professor 15 4% Egypt, Estonia, France, Gambia, Greece, Hungary, India, Dept./Faculty Head 10 3% Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Other 20 5% Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Field of Study Switzerland, Ukraine, Venezuela Social Sciences 291 79% Computer Science 66 18% Education 65 18% Arts and Literature 43 12% Management 42 11% Language 25 7% History 15 4% Applied Sci&Engin. 15 4% Philosophy 14 4% Natural Sciences 9 2% Religion 9 2% Geography 6 2% Mathematics 4 1% Note: Respondents were able to select more than one field of study. As a result, the responses equal more than 100%.
  10. 10. February 1, 2012 Page 10 of 10ADDITIONAL PUBLICATIONS Gruzd, A., Staves, K., and Wilk, A. (2011). Tenure and Promotion in the Age of Online Social Media. Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) Conference, October 9-13, 2011, New Orleans, LA, USA. DOI: 10.1002/meet.2011.14504801154 Gruzd, A. & Staves, K. (2011). Trends in Scholarly Use of Online Social Media. Position paper presented at the Workshop on Changing Dynamics of Scientific Collaboration, the 44th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), January 4-7, 2011, Kauai, HI, USA. Available at http://dalspace.library.dal.ca/handle/10222/14427 Gruzd, A., Wellman, B., and Takhteyev, Y. (2011). Imagining Twitter as an Imagined Community. American Behavioral Scientist 55(10): 1294-1318. DOI: 10.1177/0002764211409378ABOUT THE SOCIAL MEDIA LABThe Social Media Lab studies how online social media and other web 2.0 technologies are changing theways people communicate and disseminate information. In addition, we are actively developing andtesting various automated text mining techniques and visualization tools for uncovering and visualizingonline social networks. The broad aim of this research is to provide researchers, managers and otherinformation seekers with additional knowledge and insights into the behaviours and role of onlinenetwork members and their relationships to each other.ACKNOWLEDGMENTSThis work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and NCEGraphics, Animation and New meDia (GRAND) grants.We would like to acknowledge and thank all of the study participants, who kindly volunteered their timeand professional opinions to our study.

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