Changing styles of informal academic communication in the age of the web: Orthodox, moderate and heterodox responses

Ahmed Shehata*, David Ellis, Allen Edward Foster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to report the findings of a study to investigate the changes in scholarly communication practices among a group of scholars in the UK and build upon the results that were published in a previous paper. Design/methodology/approach: The study deployed a naturalistic inquiry approach using semi-structured interviews as a qualitative research tool. A sample of 40 participants from four UK universities was interviewed to explore the changes in informal scholarly communication behaviour. Findings: The analysis of the interviews revealed that there are three ideal types of behaviour: the “orthodox” uses formal and traditional scholarly communication approaches; the “moderate” prioritises formal communication approaches, but at the same time is trying to get benefits from informal channels; and, the “Heterodox” uses all channels available in the scholarly communication. Originality/value: The value of the current study lies in using a naturalistic inquiry approach to investigate the changes in scholarly communication practices, and to explore the different scholarly communication styles. In the context of this study, the use of a naturalistic approach and grounded theory principles in connection with coding provided a stance that allows for the gathering of rich information to enable understanding and explanation of scholarly communication activities in addition to uncovering themes that related to scholarly behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)825-842
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Documentation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 12 2017


  • Informal communication
  • Information seeking
  • Scholarly collaboration
  • Scholarly communication
  • Scholarly publishing
  • Social web

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences

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