Academics and their use of social media

A report from the University of Canberra has recently been released which describes the results of a survey of over 700 academics from around the world about their use of social media. It found that:

  • 97% of respondents were using social media for work-related activities
  • The top five most-used tools were Twitter, LinkedIn, Academia.edu, Facebook, and ResearchGate
  • The benefits of social media included making connections and developing networks, openness and sharing, self-promotion, and keeping up with research
  • Drawbacks of social media that were noted included privacy and the blurring of boundaries, the potential for damaging one’s career, their colleagues’ perception that use of social media was frivolous, and the time pressures involved

So how does this relate to the library? Should we be providing training for academics on how to most effectively utilise social media? At Macquarie, we have run workshops for academic staff on research metrics, and we touch briefly on tools for creating their profile, but we haven’t moved into the social media workshop space, yet. I can see that using social media to promote their work could be one “hook” we could use to encourage academics to use social media. We could point them to studies (such as this one, this one, and this one) which have found that there is a link between the number of citations to an article and the number of tweets that it receives.

This is an area where I think it could be useful for librarians to form a partnership with their colleagues in the Learning and Teaching Centre (or equivalent) to develop workshops for academics on using social media. It is certainly an area where we can play a part, and show that the library is not just about books and journals.