To address this question, a mixed-methods social network analysis study was undertaken. This paper will report the results of the first phase of the study; an online survey, which sought to gauge the level of use of academic SNS. The survey ran from November 2014 to February 2015, during which it was completed by 528 respondents. Participants were asked to indicate their level of use for a range of academic and related SNS, and their level of agreement with an inventory of 30 Likert scale items. The Likert scale items were based upon the themes of collaboration, communication and online identity, which were derived from existing literature. The results of this survey shed light on the relative importance of these sites in terms of how academics actually make use of them.
In order to investigate the relationship between academic SNS and academic practice, nonparametric statistical tests were used to examine to detect differences in the ways in which sites are used according to academics’ discipline or job position. A disciplinary divide was evident in terms of preferred academic SNS platforms. Differences in responses to the Likert scale items show how academics use online networking for different purposes according to career stage. Future work, to investigate these differences in detail, will be introduced. The findings help provide a better understanding of academics’ perceptions of these sites may help the sites to realise these goals, by raising awareness of the benefits, and identifying aspects of the sites which could be improved.
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