Reasons for use and disuse of academic social networking sites

Reasons for use and disuse of academic social networking sites

Author: Franziska Thiele – University of Rostock, Germany

Corinna Líthje – University of Rostock

The academic social networking sites (ASNS) ResearchGate and Academia are gaining more and more popularity among researchers (Van Noorden, 2014). They offer the opportunity to easily upload and access publications as well as for academic self-marketing. They have the potential to significantly change scientific communication. But why do researchers actually use ASNS?

Though the number of studies on ResearchGate and Academia is increasing, those identifying reasons for using ASNS (like sharing publications, increasing citations or contact colleagues) mostly apply a quantitative approach (Meishar-Tal & Pieterse, 2017; Muscanell & Utz, 2017; Van Noorden, 2014). This study wants to add to the findings from a qualitative perspective. It identifies reasons for researchers to (not) use the two platforms with the uses and gratification approach by Katz et al. (1973) as its theoretical basis. To identify the reasons 54 German scientists from different status groups and disciplines were interviewed in qualitative interviews in 2016-2017.

28 of the participants had ASNS accounts: 17 used ResearchGate and three exclusively, while nine had accounts in both networks. Most interviewees reported to make little use of the platforms. If they did, it was to access and share publications, network, increase their visibility and learn more about the impact of their publications. Doctoral students rather followed interesting people and accessed publications, while postdocs and professors shared them and tried to increase their visibility. With the impact factor of a publication or comments left by others researchers quickly get feedback on their research, they would otherwise not receive. ASNS furthermore enhance self-marketing and networking opportunities and seem to gain importance as scientific communication tools.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Visual talk
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices