This paper aims to analyse various aspects of an academic social network: the profile of users, the reasons for its use, its perceived benefits and the use of other social media for scholarly purposes.
The authors examined the profiles of the users of an academic social network. The users were affiliated with 12 universities. The following were recorded for each user: sex, the number of documents uploaded, the number of followers, and the number of people being followed. In addition, a survey was sent to the individuals who had an email address in their profile.
Half of the users of the social network were academics and a third were PhD students. Social sciences scholars accounted for nearly half of all users. Academics used the service to get in touch with other scholars, disseminate research results and follow other scholars. Other widely employed social media included citation indexes, document creation, edition and sharing tools and communication tools. Users complained about the lack of support for the utilisation of these tools.
The results are based on a single case study.
This study provides new insights on the impact of social media in academic contexts by analysing the user profiles and benefits of a social network service that is specifically targeted at the academic community.
This research was partially supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (CSO2008-04762/SOCI).
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