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Article
Publication date: 9 May 2016

Sara Mannheimer, Scott W.H. Young and Doralyn Rossmann

In this paper, faculty librarians at an academic institution explore the ethical dimensions of conducting research with user-generated social networking service (SNS) data. In an…

Abstract

Purpose

In this paper, faculty librarians at an academic institution explore the ethical dimensions of conducting research with user-generated social networking service (SNS) data. In an effort to guide librarian-researchers, this paper first offers a background discussion of privacy ethics across disciplines and then proposes a library-specific ethical framework for conducting SNS research.

Design/methodology/approach

By surveying the literature in other disciplines, three key considerations are identified that can inform ethical practice in the field of library science: context, expectation, and value analysis. For each of these considerations, the framework is tailored to consider ethical issues, as they relate to libraries and our practice as librarian-researchers.

Findings

The unique role of the librarian-researcher demands an ethical framework specific to that practice. The findings of this paper propose such a framework.

Practical implications

Librarian-researchers are at a unique point in our history. In exploring SNSs as a source of data to conduct research and improve services, we become challenged by conflicting and equally cherished values of patron privacy and information access. By evaluating research according to context, expectations, and value, this framework provides an ethical path forward for research using SNS data.

Originality/value

As of this paper’s publication, there is no existing ethical framework for conducting SNS research in libraries. The proposed framework is informed both by library values and by broader research values, and therefore provides unique guidelines for the librarian-researcher.

Details

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, vol. 14 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-996X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 16 November 2015

Doralyn Rossmann and Scott W.H. Young

Social Media Optimization (SMO) offers guidelines by which libraries can design content for social shareability through social networking services (SNSs). The purpose of this…

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Abstract

Purpose

Social Media Optimization (SMO) offers guidelines by which libraries can design content for social shareability through social networking services (SNSs). The purpose of this paper is to introduce SMO and discuss its effects and benefits for libraries.

Design/methodology/approach

Researchers identified and applied five principles of SMO. Web analytics software provides data on web site traffic and user engagement before and after the application of SMO.

Findings

By intentionally applying a program of SMO, the library increased content shareability, increased user engagement, and built community.

Research limitations/implications

Increasing use of SNSs may influence the study results, independent of SMO application. Limitations inherent to web analytics software may affect results. Further study could expand analysis beyond web analytics to include comments on SNS posts, SNS shares from library pages, and a qualitative analysis of user behaviors and attitudes regarding library web content and SNSs.

Practical implications

This research offers an intentional approach for libraries to optimize their online resources sharing through SNSs.

Originality/value

Previous research has examined the role of community building and social connectedness for SNS users, but none have discussed using SMO to encourage user engagement and interactivity through increased SNS traffic into library web pages.

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