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Editorial Note

International Journal of Information Studies and Libraries

Volume 2 Issue 1

Published: 2017
Author(s) Name: Joanna Richardson | Author(s) Affiliation: Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
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Abstract

Academic Social Networking Sites: A Potential Tool for LIS Scholars


The last decade has seen the emergence of “academic social networking sites” (ASNS), each offering its own suite of tools to support a range of research activities (Bullinger et al., 2010). Jordan (2014) defines them as websites aimed explicitly at the academic community which allow users to create a profile and make connections with others. Popular examples include, but are not limited to, ResearchGate, Academia.edu, and Mendeley.

A high-level search on the topic within Google Scholar reveals that an increasing number of publications are being written which encourage the use of social media in general, and ASNS in particular, as a means for scholars to not only promote their research but also communicate with other scholars. For the purposes of this editorial, I have used the term “scholar” to encompass academics, researchers, and professionals (practitioners) within any discipline.

Some of the benefits attributed to ASNS include collaboration, online persona management, research dissemination, documents management, and impact measurement. Scholars have an online environment in which to create profile pages, share papers, track views and download, and discuss their research. Some ASNS provide measures of academic impact. There is also the potential to build meaningful and lasting collaborative partnerships, although this aspect is probably not yet well utilised. As Bullinger (2010) points out, the ability for a scholar to maintain their profile, supply detailed information on their current work and interests, as well as follow other users they are interested in to keep track of their activities, is potentially an incentive to join one or more of these sites.

Traditionally libraries have provided information support and training to researchers; more recently this has been expanded to include support in all phases of the scholarly communication lifecycle. It is no longer simply a matter of having one’s research published; it is also important for authors to build an effective academic profile so as to expand the reach of their ideas. Therefore, from a library perspective, there is a role for librarians in educating academics about not only the benefits of using ASNS as a platform for enhancing their visibility but also best practice in creating an effective academic profile (Ali and Richardson, 2017). In the present-day scholarly communication environment, this complements current roles, such as providing advice on the selection of an appropriate journal in which to publish.

In some countries, important scholarly journals are not yet in electronic format, thus narrowing their accessibility both domestically and internationally. In addition, authors represented in these print journals are unable to use the functionality of services such as CrossRef or ORCID to create an online academic profile simply by automatically linking to their publications. A potential method to overcome this impediment would be for authors to scan their print-based articles (assuming this is permitted by the publisher) and upload them as PDFs to an ASNS as part of an “author (academic) profile”.

In terms of their own professional development, the potential benefits to LIS scholars from using ASNS are twofold. First, since social media sites have been found to be a significant source of free articles in lower income countries (Gardner and Inger (2016), scholars may have access to scholarly resources not normally available in their institution. Second, establishing a public professional profile creates the potential for collaboration, building connections, and exchanging information and ideas. For example, my own role as Editor with IJISL can be directly attributed with having “connected” with Dr Chakravarty through ResearchGate.

In conclusion, academic social networking sites are worthy of consideration as a tool which has the potential to support various stages of the research lifecycle, e.g. resource discovery, collaboration, and dissemination of outputs.


Joanna Richardson
Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia


References
Ali, M.Y., & Richardson. J. (2017). Pakistani LIS scholars’ altmetrics in ResearchGate. Program, 51(2). DOI: 10.1108/PROG-07-2016-0052
Bullinger, A. C., Hallerstede, S., Renken, U., Soeldner, J., & Möslein, K. (2010). Towards research collaboration: A taxonomy of social research network sites. AMCIS 2010 Proceedings, Paper 92
Gardner, T., & Inger, S. (2016). How readers discover content in scholarly publications: Trends in behaviour from 2005-2015, Renew Training: Oxford
Jordan, K. (2014). Academics and their online networks: Exploring the role of academic social networking sites. First Monday, 19(11)

Keywords: N.A.

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