Social Networks for Academics Proliferate, But Are They Effective?

Social Networks for Academics Proliferate, But Are They Effective?

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The past five years have seen a proliferation of social networking sites designed specifically for scholars, like Academia.edu, which, with 1.2 million registered users, is one of the heavyweights in the field. The free sites, which also include Mendeley.com, ResearchGate.net, Zotero.org, and a number of discipline-specific platforms, typically offer users a way to organize their research, create personal profiles, and search for people with similar scholarly interests.

While the number of faculty-networking sites is growing, and their registered-user figures soar into the millions, their impact on higher education is less clear. Some scholars who are already feeling overwhelmed by the demands of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and e-mail either shy away from the new sites or dabble in them and then let their accounts sit dormant. Still, the founders and regular users of the sites insist they are having a profound impact on how scholars go about their work.

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