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Researchers' judgment criteria of high-quality answers on academic social Q&A platforms

Lei Li (Department of Information Management, School of Government, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China)
Chengzhi Zhang (Department of Information Management, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing, China)
Daqing He (School of Computing and Information, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Jia Tina Du (School of Information Technology and Mathematical Sciences, Mawson Lakes Campus, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 20 February 2020

Issue publication date: 10 June 2020



Through a two-stage survey, this paper examines how researchers judge the quality of answers on ResearchGate Q&A, an academic social networking site.


In the first-stage survey, 15 researchers from Library and Information Science (LIS) judged the quality of 157 answers to 15 questions and reported the criteria that they had used. The content of their reports was analyzed, and the results were merged with relevant criteria from the literature to form the second-stage survey questionnaire. This questionnaire was then completed by researchers recognized as accomplished at identifying high-quality LIS answers on ResearchGate Q&A.


Most of the identified quality criteria for academic answers—such as relevance, completeness, and verifiability—have previously been found applicable to generic answers. The authors also found other criteria, such as comprehensiveness, the answerer's scholarship, and value-added. Providing opinions was found to be the most important criterion, followed by completeness and value-added.


The findings here show the importance of studying the quality of answers on academic social Q&A platforms and reveal unique considerations for the design of such systems.



This work was supported by National Social Science Fund Project (No. 19CTQ032).


Li, L., Zhang, C., He, D. and Du, J.T. (2020), "Researchers' judgment criteria of high-quality answers on academic social Q&A platforms", Online Information Review, Vol. 44 No. 3, pp. 603-623.



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