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Researchers’ online visibility: tensions of visibility, trust and reputation

Sara Kjellberg (Lunds Universitet, Lund, Sweden)
Jutta Haider (Lunds Universitet, Lund, Sweden)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 15 October 2018

Issue publication date: 17 May 2019




The purpose of this paper is to understand what role researchers assign to online representations on the new digital communication sites that have emerged, such as Academia, ResearchGate or Mendeley. How are researchers’ online presentations created, managed, accessed and, more generally, viewed by academic researchers themselves? And how are expectations of the academic reward system navigated and re-shaped in response to the possibilities afforded by social media and other digital tools?


Focus groups have been used for empirical investigation to learn about the role online representation is assigned by the concerned researchers.


The study shows that traditional scholarly communication documents are what also scaffolds trust and builds reputation in the new setting. In this sense, the new social network sites reinforce rather than challenge the importance of formal publications.


An understanding of the different ways in which researchers fathom the complex connection between reputation and trust in relation to online visibility as a measure of, or at least an attempt at, publicity (either within academia or outside it) is essential. This paper emphasizes the need to tell different stories by exploring how researchers understand their own practices and reasons for them.



The research was funded by the Swedish Research Council Framework Grant “Knowledge in a Digital World: Trust, Credibility and Relevance on the Web” (2013–2017), Grant No. 2012-20681-97949-46.


Kjellberg, S. and Haider, J. (2019), "Researchers’ online visibility: tensions of visibility, trust and reputation", Online Information Review, Vol. 43 No. 3, pp. 426-439.



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