Social media in scholarly communication : a review of the literature and empirical analysis of Twitter use by SSHRC doctoral award recipients
This report has been commissioned by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to analyze the role that social media currently plays in scholarly communication as well as to what extent metrics derived from social media activity related to scholarly content can be applied in an evaluation context. Scholarly communication has become more diverse and open with research being discussed, shared and evaluated online. Social media tools are increasingly being used in the research and scholarly communication context, as scholars connect on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter or specialized platforms such as ResearchGate, Academia.edu or Mendeley. Research is discussed on blogs or Twitter, while datasets, software code and presentations are shared on Dryad, Github, FigShare and similar websites for reproducibility and reuse. Literature is managed, annotated and shared with online tools such as Mendeley and Zotero, and peer review is starting to be more open and transparent. The changing landscape of scholarly communication has also brought about new possibilities regarding its evaluation. So-called altmetrics are based on scholarly social media activity and have been introduced to reflect scholarly output and impact beyond considering only peer-reviewed journal articles and citations within them to measure scientific success. This includes the measurement of more diverse types of scholarly work and various forms of impact including that on society. This report provides an overview of how various social media tools are used in the research context based on 1) an extensive review of the current literature as well as 2) an empirical analysis of the use of Twitter by the 2010 cohort of SSHRC Doctoral Award recipients was analyzed in depth. Twitter has been chosen as one of the most promising tools regarding interaction with the general public and scholarly communication beyond the scientific community. The report focuses on the opportunities and challenges of social media and derived metrics and attempts to provide SSHRC with information to develop guidelines regarding the use of social media by funded researchers as well support the informed used of social media metrics.