Do highly cited researchers successfully use the social web?
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Academics can now use the web and the social websites to disseminate scholarly information in a variety of different ways. Although some scholars have taken advantage of these new online opportunities, it is not clear how widespread their uptake is or how much impact they can have. This study assesses the extent to which successful scientists have social web presences, focusing on one influential group: highly cited researchers working at European institutions. It also assesses the impact of these presences. We manually and systematically identified if the European highly cited researchers had profiles in Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic Search, Mendeley, Academia and LinkedIn or any content in SlideShare. We then used URL mentions and altmetric indicators to assess the impact of the web presences found. Although most of the scientists had an institutional website of some kind, few had created a profile in any social website investigated, and LinkedIn—the only non-academic site in the list—was the most popular. Scientists having one kind of social web profile were more likely to have another in many cases, especially in the life sciences and engineering. In most cases it was possible to estimate the relative impact of the profiles using a readily available statistic and there were disciplinary differences in the impact of the different kinds of profiles. Most social web profiles had some evidence of uptake, if not impact; nevertheless, the value of the indicators used is unclear.
KeywordsHighly cited scientists Europe Web presence Indicators Impact Social web Assessment
This research was supported by ACUMEN (Academic Careers Understood through Measurement and Norms) project, grant agreement number 266632, under the Seventh Framework Program of the EU. It is an extended version of a conference poster that focused on the first research questions (Mas-Bleda et al. 2013). The authors thank Judit Bar-Ilan her valuable comments on this paper.
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