Academics and social media

Time this evening to give a quick plug to Deborah Lupton’s Survey on academics’ use of social media. I spotted the online questionnaire when it first appeared, and was pleased to take part. Now, some months later, Deborah has published her results. Here’s the abstract from the main report, reproduced in its entirety:

This report outlines findings from an international online survey of 711 academics about their use of social media as part of their work conducted in January 2014. The survey sought to identify the tools that the respondents used, those they found most useful and the benefits and the drawbacks of using social media as a university faculty member or postgraduate student. The results offer insights into the sophisticated and strategic ways in which some academics are using social media and the many benefits they have experienced for their academic work. These benefits included connecting and establishing networks not only with other academics but also people or groups outside universities, promoting openness and sharing of information, publicising and development of research and giving and receiving support. While the majority of the respondents were very positive about using social media, they also expressed a range of concerns. These included issues of privacy and the blurring of boundaries between personal and professional use, the risk of jeopardising their career through injudicious use of social media, lack of credibility, the quality of the content they posted, time pressures, social media use becoming an obligation, becoming a target of attack, too much self-promotion by others, possible plagiarism of their ideas and the commercialisation of content and copyright issues. The report ends by contextualising the findings within the broader social and political environment and outlining areas for future research.

The report makes for an interesting read. For those looking for a condensed-but-longer-than-an-abstract version, follow this link for Prof Lupton’s accompanying piece for The Conversation website.


7 thoughts on “Academics and social media

  1. It’s another disruptive technology, Ben. See it as the new bypass to Wigan Pier. The “great unwashed” (Davies, RCT 2011) are probably even more pressurised to participate. What makes academics so special in this regard? What do they want? Cotton wool or Kevlar with their degrees?

    1. Yes it is disruptive, Dave, and there’s nothing special about academics in this regard. Most people in this survey seemed to have embraced social media, I think, but it would have been a fairly self-selecting sample.

  2. Thanks for your inclusiveness, Ben. I was coming from the angle that academics would naturally have at least the moral support of their institutions and cohorts. Not so, for Joe Pub, who’s using social media to find out what’s going on in this period of unprecedented sociocultural change. The recession isn’t just economic!

    But I’m clearer on the specific risks to academics and students around safeguarding their work, and that it’s not unknown for individuals and working groups to experience the wrath of sometimes quite powerful and influential opponents. Much food for thought!

  3. Social media: Mental Elf the new benchmark, Ben! I’ve got a job to understand folk who whinge and whine all the time, have you?

      1. I’ve already cornered the market (whinging) – you won’t get a look-in! Yes, Mental Elf very accessible and the ‘commons’ thing very interesting. But for someone all on his Jack Jones, you’re doing a sterling job – It’s an education for me!

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