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Tuesday, July 12 • 10:31 - 12:00
Examining individual and collective factors affecting the adoption of social media by inter-institutional research teams

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Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 302, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
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  • Audrey Laplante, Université de Montréal, Canada 
  • Stefanie Haustein, Université de Montréal, Canada 
  • Christine Dufour, Université de Montréal, Canada


Social media have not only changed the way people interact in their everyday lives but have also entered academia. Researchers are starting to use general social media platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook) as well as specialized tools (e.g., ResearchGate, Mendeley) for the creation, management and dissemination of scholarly work. The adoption of social media by scholars faces a variety of facilitators and barriers. Known obstacles include lack of time, lack of recognition of social media activities for getting a promotion or funding, and information overload (Acord & Harley 2013; CIBER 2010; Gruzd, Staves, & Wilk 2012; Nicholas et al. 2011; Ponte & Simon 2011), while uptake is facilitated by peer influence and collaborating with scholars from other institutions (Acord & Harley 2013; CIBER 2010; Gruzd, Staves, & Wilk 2012; Procter et al. 2010). It varies across disciplines and age or level of career progression (CIBER 2010; Gruzd, Staves & Wilk 2011, 2012; Holmberg & Thelwall 2014; Nicholas et al. 2014; Pearce 2010; Procter et al. 2010; Van Noorden 2014). Maintaining or creating ties with other scholars, promoting and disseminating their research, staying informed, communicating with other scholars and sharing information (CIBER 2010; Gruzd & Goertzen 2013; Gruzd, Staves, & Wilk 2012; Nicholas et al. 2014; Pearce 2010) were identified as main motivations of scholarly social media use.

Although collaboration is essential for science and has been associated with higher impact (Larivière et al. 2015; Sonnenwald 2007), the link between social media use and collaborative research practices remains largely unexplored.


The objective of our study is to examine how scholars use social media at different stages of the research process in the context of an inter-institutional collaborative research project. More specifically, the study aims to:

(1) provideanin-depthanalysisofusepracticesofsocialmediaateachstageofaninter-institutional collaborative research project; and

(2) explorethefactorsofadoptionofsocialmediabyteamsofresearchersininter-institutional collaborative research projects.


A mixed-methods sequential exploratory design (Creswell & Plano Clark 2011) will be used. The first phase will consist in a multiple case study. Four to eight inter-institutional research teams from various disciplines will be selected. The results of in-depth interviews conducted with each team member will be combined with quantitative bibliometric and altmetric data in order to provide a rich and contextualized description of the individual and collective factors that affect the adoption–or non-adoption—of social media in this context. The results of this first phase will inform the second phase consisting in a Canada-wide survey of researchers, allowing for a more complete picture of the phenomenon under study.


The project is still in its early stages. Initial efforts were devoted to defining the theoretical framework. To understand why and how a team of researchers use social media, we examined prominent technology adoption models—the Diffusion of Innovation Theory (Rogers 1983), the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) (Davis 1989), and the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) (Venkatesh et al. 2003)—as well as models focusing on work teams—the Adaptive Structuration Theory (AST) (DeSanctis & Poole 1994) that outlines the factors influencing technology appropriation by groups within an organization, and Constantine’s (1993) organizational reference paradigms that outlines the characteristics of four different group “personalities”. To these, we added the Theory of Information Sharing of Constant, Keisler and Sproull (1994), enriched by Jarvenpaa and Staples (2000), which will allow us to better understand the collaborative personality of each team member, in the context of a specific research team, something that is not included in traditional technology adoption models.

Future Work:

In order to complete the first phase of our research, the next steps will be to define the selection criteria for the multiple case study, and then recruit research teams that have received funding from a Canadian research


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Tuesday July 12, 2016 10:31 - 12:00 UTC
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 302 Goldsmiths University, Building 2