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Tenure and Promotion in the Age of Online Social Media


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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

Published in: Education, Technology, Business
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Tenure and Promotion in the Age of Online Social Media

  1. 1. Tenure & Promotion in the Age of Online Social Media Anatoliy Gruzd, Kathleen Staves, Amanda WilkEmail: gruzd@dal.caTwitter: @dalprofWeb: ASIS&T 2011 New Orleans, LA, USA October 10, 2011
  2. 2. Social Media Lab
  3. 3. August 2010: Vinay Deolalikar, a researcher at HP Labs claims to have a proof
  4. 4. Twitter Chatter #ASIST2011 ( (as of Oct-10, 12pm)
  5. 5. Conversation Network of #assist2011 ( as of Oct-10, Twitter: dalprof 7
  6. 6. Academic Social Networking• • Twitter: dalprof 8
  7. 7. Academic Microblogging• Twitter: dalprof 9
  8. 8. Academic Blogging• • Twitter: dalprof 10
  9. 9. Background• Reasons for Use – Communicate (Barjak, 2006; Bonetta, 2007; Gardiner, 2006; Letierce et al., 2010) – Spark and expand new ideas (Collins et al, 2010; Kirkup, 2010) – Create and maintain a network of scholars (Biernholtz, et al, 2009; Letierce, et al., 2010) Twitter: dalprof 11
  10. 10. Background (2)• Scholars in the sciences use social media technologies earlier and more frequently than their counterparts in the humanities (Dubini, et al., 2010; Gardiner, 2006; Maron, et al., 2008) – Sciences rely on peers more heavily for knowledge dissemination, collaboration, and support (Cronin, 2010; Maron et al., 2005) Twitter: dalprof 12
  11. 11. Project Description• Goal – To understand how scholars are using social media and networking tools for the purpose of disseminating knowledge and information• Case studies – American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) – Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) – International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA) Twitter: dalprof 13
  12. 12. Defining Online Social Media (OSM)• Broad definition – any web-based websites that include web 2.0 characteristics and contain some aspect of user generated content• Examples – social networking sites like Facebook and – microblogging tools like Twitter – video/teleconferencing tools such as Skype – online media repositories such as Twitter: dalprof 14
  13. 13. Research Questions for this Project1. Why are scholars starting to use and rely on OSM tools?2. What are the most popular OSM tools among scholars?3. What is the perceived utility of these media?4. What are the perceived problems associated with OSM use in the scholarly community?5. Are there any differences in OSM use among junior and senior faculty? Twitter: dalprof 15
  14. 14. Research Questions for this Paper• Whether academic institutions should improve their support of the scholarly use of these new technologies?• Should OSM be formally included as part of the tenure and promotion guidelines? And if yes, how? Twitter: dalprof 16
  15. 15. Method• Interviews • Online Survey – 51 participants – 367 participants – ASIS&T 2010, Pittsburgh, PA – ASIS&T, AoIR, Twitter: dalprof 17
  16. 16. This paper is based on INTERVIEW DATA
  17. 17. Interview Demographics Gender # % Position # % Female 26 51 Assistant Professor 19 37 Male 25 49 Associate Professor 10 20 Country PhD Student 6 12 United States 29 57 Professor 5 10 Canada 17 33 Researcher 4 8 Europe 5 10 Director/Dean 4 8 Librarian 2 4 Discipline # % Instructor 1 2 Library & Info Studies 44 86 Computer Science 3 6 Media/Communication Studies 2 4 Business Administration 1 2 Engineering 1 Twitter: dalprof 19
  18. 18. Frequency of OSM Uses Cited by Respondents Virtual Worlds 10 Presentation Sharing Sites 16 Social Bookmarking Tools 17 Academic Social Networking Tools 17 Bibliographic Management Sites 18 Microblogging Tools 25 Media Repositories 29 Online Document Management Tools 32 Video/teleconferencing Tools 35 Blogs (Writing and Reading) 35 Listserv Groups 36Non Academic Social Networking Tools 37 Wikis 42 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 Twitter: dalprof 20
  19. 19. Users Non-UsersAs part of a research project Time consuming & information overloadTo stay up to date in their field Risk of non peer reviewed informationCommunication and collaboration with Concern about loss of intellectualcolleagues, the public, students, etc content & privacyTo create a sense of community for a Colleagues aren’t using OSM,research group therefore there’s no reason to use itMore convenient than using print Institutional IT departments do notresources for research and provide enough supportcommunicationGreat personal information Concern about sites’ profiting frommanagement resources usersTo find interesting information outside Scholars should not have to promoteof their field their own work
  20. 20. Should Online Social Media be Considered Towards Tenure or Promotion? Twitter: dalprof 22
  21. 21. “Agree”• One junior scholar stated, – “I’d really like to see it become a part of tenure and promotion. Because I think that a lot of people are using it fully professionally. – They’re making contacts, and they’re also positively contributing to the field […] and I think that’s a really important part of what faculty does. They sort of promote their field…” Twitter: dalprof 23
  22. 22. … But How and to What Degree?• “I think its a hard thing to quantify. I mean what does it mean to say you have 50,000 followers on Twitter?• Does that mean that you are a better academic? Should that be recognized for promotion and tenure? Im not so sure.• Whats the reason that youre being followed?” Twitter: dalprof 25
  23. 23. At the same time…• “Its the same reason as with bibliometrics. Maybe they follow you because you do outrageous things and it has nothing to do with your professional standing.” Twitter: dalprof 26
  24. 24. Research Component• If and how their use of traditional information dissemination tools (such as academic journals) has changed since they started using OSM tools? – 27 participants (53%) – complimentary – 10 (20%) – a large change – 13 (25%)– no Twitter: dalprof 27
  25. 25. OSM & traditional publishing“Complimentary”• Focused on both finding and disseminating information.• One academic stated – “I follow a bunch of academics in my research area. So…I catch papers other people have published. So they … tweet papers that theyve had published...” Twitter: dalprof 28
  26. 26. Service Component• The least clearly defined in many policies• It can include: – an evaluation of the scholar’s contributions to the institutions’ positive reputation, – their time spent volunteering on committees and boards, – their positive contributions to the local community in Twitter: dalprof 30
  27. 27. Indirect Benefits• Establishing new professional contacts (30 respondents)• Maintaining existing contacts (17 respondents)• Keeping up to date (15 respondents)• Promoting one’s work (13 respondents) Twitter: dalprof 31
  28. 28. Benefits Associated with OSM Use by Twitter: dalprof 32
  29. 29. OSM Use by Twitter: dalprof 34
  30. 30. Other indirect benefits• Collaborating and communicating with team members, sharing ideas, and making writing both easier and faster, especially with team members who are geographically distributed.• One person said – “I have a friend [and], we’ve done presentations together, and she’s in [a different State]. So rather than sending an email back and forth, we find it’s easier to do it on Google docs...” Twitter: dalprof 35
  31. 31. Conclusion• The majority of interviewees agreed that OSM activities should eventually be considered, as long as there is a way to ensure that they contain relevant peer-reviewed scholarly content.Twitter: Twitter: dalprof 36
  32. 32. Future outlook: Alternative Metrics Twitter: dalprof 37
  33. 33. Publishers & OSM• Scholarly publishers are starting to develop ways to measure scholars’ impact in the realm of online social media. – e.g., the Public Library of Science (PLoS) – Measures: the number of times an article is bookmarked, the number of mentions of the article on Twitter: dalprof 38
  34. 34. Next steps: Twitter: dalprof 39
  35. 35. Related papers• Gruzd, A., Takhteyev, Y., and Wellman, B. (2011). Imagining Twitter as an Imagined Community. American Behavioral Scientist 55(10): 1294-1318.• Gruzd, A., Black, F.A., Le, Y., Amos, K. (forthcoming). Investigating Biomedical Research Literature in the Blogosphere: A Case Study of Diabetes and HbA1c. Journal of the Medical Library Association, Special issue on Applying Technologies in Medical Libraries. 40
  36. 36. Acknowledgments• This work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and NCE Graphics, Animation and New meDia (GRAND) grants.• Thank all of our interview participants, who kindly volunteered their time and professional opinions to our study.• We would also like to thank Philip Mai and Melissa Goertzen, members of the Social Media Lab at Dalhousie University, for their contributions to the data gathering and analysis for this paper.• Finally, we would like to thank anonymous reviewers for providing very helpful Twitter: dalprof 41
  37. 37. Tenure & Promotion in the Age of Online Social Media Anatoliy Gruzd, Kathleen Staves, Amanda WilkEmail: gruzd@dal.caTwitter: @dalprofWeb: ASIS&T 2011 New Orleans, LA, USA October 10, 2011