Volume 70, Issue 10 p. 1153-1164
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Communication and Self-Presentation Behavior on Academic Social Networking Sites: An Exploratory Case Study on Profiles and Discussion Threads on ResearchGate

Anika Ostermaier-Grabow

Corresponding Author

Anika Ostermaier-Grabow

Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany, Luruper Chaussee 149, 22761

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Stephanie B. Linek

Stephanie B. Linek

ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, Kiel, Germany, Duesternbrooker Weg 120, 24105

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First published: 15 March 2019
Citations: 8

Abstract

Several Academic Social Networking Sites (ASNSs) have been launched in the last few years and their number of members is growing. Researchers using ASNSs come from very divergent scientific backgrounds and academic levels, prompting one to ask the question, What kind of communication and self-presentation behaviors occur within these structures? The qualitative study presented in this article analyzed the communication behavior of a selected sample on ResearchGate (RG). It investigates how researchers present themselves on their personal-profile sites and how they interact with other researchers. Overall, the results show that mostly young male academics without previous connections to each other (for example, faculty colleges) use RG for their scholarly exchanges. In general, communication behavior is characterized by an objective, professional, unemotional choice of words and seldom the use of polite salutations or words of farewell. However, there seems to be a correlation between long discussion and an increased use of colloquial and emotional language. Based on our findings, we derived preliminary practical recommendations for communications on ASNSs to improve the relationships in online academic interactions, to foster inclusiveness of gender and culture, and to reduce insecurity in matters of communication, presentation, and the exchange of scientific data.