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The Use of Social Media in Informal Scientific Communication Among Scholars: Modeling the Modern Invisible College

Description: The concept of the invisible college is a key focus of scientific communication research with many studies on this topic in the literature. However, while such studies have contributed to an understanding of the invisible college, they have not adequately explained the interaction of social and structural processes in this phenomenon. As a consequence, past research has described the invisible college differently based on researchers’ perspectives, resulting in misinterpretations or inconsistent definitions of the relevant social and structural processes. Information science and related disciplines have focused on the structural processes that lead to scholarly products or works while placing less emphasis on the social processes. To advance understanding of the invisible college and its dimensions (including both social processes and structural processes), a proposed model (Modern Invisible College Model, MICM) has been built based on the history of the invisible college and Lievrouw’s (1989) distinction between social and structural processes. The present study focuses on the social processes of informal communication between scholars via social media, rather than on the structural processes that lead to scholarly products or works. A developed survey and an employed quantitative research method were applied for data collection. The research population involved 77 scholars from the Institute of Public Administration (IPA), in Saudi Arabia. Descriptive statistics, frequency and percentage were conducted for each statement. Means and standard deviations were calculated. The results indicate that the majority of participants heavily use social media for scientific communication purposes. Also, the results confirm that scholars consider social media to be an effective and appropriate tool for scientific communication. Seven factors were found in the findings to have positive correlations with uses and gratifications theory and the use of social media. This research contributes to and benefits scholars, reference groups (i.e., the invisible college itself), and institutions, and provides ...
Date: May 2014
Creator: Algarni, Mohammed Ayedh