Using social media to disseminate academic work

Report
Openness and Impact in
Academia Using Social
Media
Jane Tinkler, LSE Public Policy Group
London School of Economics
Critical Perspectives on ‘Open-ness’ in the Digital University,
Edinburgh University, November 2012
Traditional academic communication is
fairly ‘closed’
• Core set of journal articles, conference papers, books and
chapters, and occasional book reviews.
• Journal articles and books are read by some in your field,
but don’t often break into other disciplines and are rarely
picked up by the media.
• The texts of books and articles are inaccessible to those
without subscription/library access.
• Outputs are often fairly long and in language that is
sometimes meaningful only to other academics.
• This reflects a one-way (experts only) communications
process.
Digital academic communication can be
more ‘open’
• Growth of ejournal subscriptions and ebooks that can be
accessed simultaneously by student groups as well as
those working off-site.
• University websites and online depositories host
academic research for those outside the academy who
want to read them.
• The ‘academic spring’ pressure for research to be open
access has gathered pace and now some funders and the
UK government are supporting this move.
• Universities and academics are taking up opportunities
provided by social media for communication and
dissemination on the back of the ‘impact agenda’.
How does using social media help make
your research more ‘open’?
1. Put very simply, it allows more people to read your research.
A team from the World Bank examined the influence of
economic blogs on download figures for articles
A team from NCRM compared the effect of twitter and
other communication channels on a paper’s downloads
An individual academic used twitter to share a link to
her work
How does using social media help make
your research more ‘open’?
1. Put very simply, it allows more people to read your research.
2. This is especially the case for some disciplines and some
sectors where debates are increasingly taking place online.
Overall 11% of external references to academic work in
our dataset were from blogs
% external refs from blogs
Media
Philosophy
Psychology
History
Law
Anthropology
Social Policy
Sociology
Political Science
Geography
Business/Management
IR
Economics
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
References to academic work in blogs vary widely by
sector
% external refs from blogs
Civil society
Media/press
Private sector
Think tanks
Government
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
How does using social media help make
your research more ‘open’?
1. Put very simply, it allows more people to read your research.
2. This is especially the case for some disciplines and some
sectors where debates are increasingly taking place online.
3. It also helps you to read more (or more wisely) within your
discipline, as well as in ‘near’ subjects.
4. Which can lead to increased collaborations with other
academics outside your usual networks. Our research has
shown cross-disciplinary, multi-authored and multiinstitutional works have more impact.
Collaboration leads to increased citations
Most outputs in our dataset
were single authored, but
more cites went to outputs
that had at least one other
author
1200
1000
800
600
400
200
0
0
1
2
3
4
5
6 or
more
Co-authorship and
Citations
Number of Co-authors
7000
Citations received
Number of Outputs
Co-authorship and
Number of Outputs
6000
5000
4000
3000
2000
1000
0
0
1
2
3
4
Number of Co-authors
5
6 or
more
How does using social media help make
your research more ‘open’?
1. Put very simply, it allows more people to read your research.
2. This is especially the case for some disciplines and some
sectors where debates are increasingly taking place online.
3. It also helps you to read more (or more wisely) within your
discipline, as well as in ‘near’ subjects.
4. Which can lead to increased collaborations with other
academics outside your usual networks. Our research has
shown multi-authored, multi-institutional works have more
impact.
5. Being part of an academic online community = event
publicity, support, guidance, fact-checking and more.
Open-ness and impact
1. The first step towards creating impact is making your
research more open and visible.
2. Use freely available tools to create a public profile for you
and your work.
Create a Google Scholar Citation profile
Open-ness and impact
1. The first step towards impact is making your research more
open and visible.
2. Use freely available tools to create a public profile for you
and your work.
3. Make full use of your university’s resources (like online
depositories, Expert directories, knowledge transfer
schemes).
4. Build communication and dissemination plans into research
projects early on.
5. Work with stakeholders and intermediary organisations to
help make your research more open.
6. BUT be realistic as to what you can expect.
Academic research and engagement
Just over a quarter of academic references
were from external sources
Civil society and third
sector
(7%)
Govt & policy
(5%)
Digital aggregators (4%)
Academic
publishers
and journals
(20%)
Media and
press
(5%)
Individs
(4%)
Academic
assocs. and
societies
(7%)
Digital
research
databases
All libraries
(14%)
University departments (20%)
Private
sector
(3%)
Independent
think tanks
(4%)
Univ.
centres
and
instits.
(7%)
Does ‘open-ness’ have drawbacks?
1. The focus on dissemination and impact can feel like a new
responsibility in addition to all the other things you do as an
academic.
Time pressures and lack of resources are real
constraints on open-ness and impact
Higher Education
Institution
 Lack of time
 Bureaucracy and inflexibility of
HEI administration
 Difficulties in identifying partners
 Insufficient rewards and lack of
awareness of the benefits from
the interactions
 Lack of understanding by
academics of the process
 Capacity and capability of the KE
system still developing / evolving
Private / public / third
sector organisation
 Lack of resources within
external organisations to fund
the KE engagement
 Insufficient benefits from the
interaction
 Lack of interest by external
organisations and lack of
demand for KE
 Intellectual property
agreements as a barrier to
some, albeit minority of, KE
engagement
Source: PACEC/CBR Survey of Academics (2008); PACEC/CBR Survey of
Enterprise Offices (2010); CBR Survey of Enterprises (2008)
Does ‘open-ness’ have drawbacks?
1. The focus on dissemination and impact can feel like a new
responsibility in addition to all the other things you do as an
academic.
2. If you start a blog or create a twitter feed for a project, you
need to keep these up which takes times and resources.
3. Being open with your research methods, stakeholders or
findings could place restrictions on what you feel you can
say.
4. Moderating the quality of discussion and debate via social
media tools can be hard. This can’t replace peer review but
some quality assurances can be built into how social media
is used.
5. You can receive instant feedback on your work, and it is all
public. Can be very nerve-wracking for individual academics
and universities.
For more see:
Maximising the Impacts of your Research: A handbook for social
scientists
Using Twitter in University Research, Teaching and
Impact Activities: A guide for academics and
researchers
Freely available to download from the
Impact of Social Sciences blog:
http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @lseimpactblog
Facebook: Impact of Social Sciences
A quick ‘how to’ guide: academic blogs
• Blogs are quick to set up and start (using Wordpress or
Blogger) but take time and resources to maintain.
• Will your blog be single or multi-authored?
• Think about your audience, who are you aiming your blog at?
• Think about your written style, blogs are usually:
• More informal in style
• Much shorter articles (we aim for max 1,000 words)
• Hyperlinks to key own or others’ articles instead of
references
• Main points or arguments in the first paragraph
• Make use of other social media tools to disseminate blog
posts (Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, Storify).
A quick ‘how to’ guide: Twitter styles

Substantive - full sentences, independently understandable,
a taster for a blog post

Conversational - eclectic content, professional and personal
life, diverse topics

Middle ground - more personality but still professional,
create discussions

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