Social network overload ‘wastes academics’ time’

Sheer number of online profiles to be filled out a ‘disservice’ to scholars, Amsterdam conference hears

October 12, 2015
Young woman using Twitter on tablet PC
Source: Alamy

To some, everyday life feels like a never-ending battle to keep abreast of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and a host of other social networks.

But academics arguably have it even harder. In addition to these networks, there are a potentially overwhelming number of digital academic communities, such as academia.edu, ResearchGate.net and Google Scholar, on which to maintain the impression of a successful and productive researcher.

This proliferation of academic social networks is a time-wasting “disservice” to academics, a conference in the Netherlands heard last week.

Chantelle Rijs, project lead for yet another academic network, Loop, told the 2:AM Amsterdam altmetrics conference on 8 October that academics “do not want to have to populate lots of different types of research profiles”.

She later added: “We agree that it should be one centralised profile.”

In the UK, the past decade has seen Facebook triumph over rivals MySpace and Bebo in the war for social media clicks. But in academia, it is unclear which network – if any – will win out.

Jeroen Bosman, a citation database expert from Utrecht University who is researching digital tools used in universities, has so far found 23 separate social networks for scholars.

Not only do multiple networks consume academics’ time, tweeted James Hardcastle, a research manager at publisher Taylor and Francis, but “social networks need critical mass to add value. The ever-increasing number risks devaluing the existing networks”, he added, tweeting in a personal capacity while attending 2:AM.

But another delegate, Stacy Konkiel, a research metrics consultant, questioned whether the proliferation was necessarily a problem, tweeting “to play devil’s advocate: is that a bad thing, if each do something special? Do we really want a ‘one profile to rule them all?’”

One solution to the problem of multiple profiles may be ORCID, an international scheme that assigns a unique identifier to researchers to prevent name mix-ups. Academics can add their research profile to the system and then sync it with other networks, such as Elsevier’s Scopus database.

david.matthews@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Related articles

Related universities

POSTSCRIPT:

Print headline: Too many outlets? Social network overload ‘wastes academics’ time’

Reader's comments (1)

What academics need is a service like the generic social media manager Hootsuite, to help them manage outreach to their different networks and then evaluate the effectiveness of that outreach (against meaningful publication metrics) so they know which one or two profiles to focus their efforts on. This is what we have tried to set up with Kudos (www.growkudos.com) - it builds on ORCID (to de-duplicate effort i.e. save academics from entering all their publications again) but by connecting the dots between profile activities and metrics, adds a layer of intelligence to the system that otherwise doesn't exist.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest