This paper aims to examine the use of online social networks by doctoral students.
A quantitative online survey was conducted – 448 doctoral students from 15 universities and 11 research institutes in Lithuania were asked about their participation in both academic and non-academic online social networks.
The results show that despite efforts to link academics to society, doctoral students are not supported by universities/research institutes nor are doctoral students trained for this purpose, including regarding such threats as offensive posts. Additionally, more comprehensive information is disclosed in academic social networks, but these networks are less common and less frequently used.
International doctoral students in Lithuania cover about 4.4 per cent of the total population of doctoral students. They were not invited to participate in the survey. Furthermore, doctoral students consider any online social network as their professional (academic) network, as was found from our results. This resulted in the confusion of our definition of academic online social networks.
Learning about the diverse online roles doctoral students may take could be facilitated were doctoral students to receive clear and consistent awareness-raising and develop self-awareness in the importance of the roles, the most central online social networks and potential threats, and related institutional support to address them.
This study provides results on how engagement of doctoral students in online social networks might affect their links with society and what academic institutions should promote in doctoral education.
The authors thank all Lithuanian universities’ and research institutes’ administrations for assistance in sharing the online questionnaire and the doctoral students who freely gave of their time to complete it. For providing the encouraging comments on the manuscript, we thank Katharina Chudzikowski, Associate Professor in Organisational Studies at the School of Management, University of Bath, United Kingdom and Inga Gaižauskaitė, Head of the Institute of Sociology at Lithuanian Social Research Centre.
Competing interests: The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Tauginienė, L. and Kalinauskaitė, R. (2018), "Participation of doctoral students in online social networks", Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 144-164. https://doi.org/10.1108/SGPE-D-18-00002Download as .RIS
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