Impact of social networking tools on scholarly communication: A cross-institutional study

Ali Al-Aufi, Crystal Fulton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - This paper aims to investigate the extent to which social networking tools had an impact on academics' patterns of informal scholarly communication in humanities and social science disciplines. Social networking tools, reinforced by proliferation and advances in portable computing and wireless technologies, have reshaped how information is produced, communicated and consumed. Design/methodology/approach - A cross-institutional quantitative study utilized an online questionnaire survey sent to 382 academics affiliated with humanities and social science disciplines in two different academic institutions: one that belongs to a Western tradition of scholarly communication in Ireland, and the other to a developing country in Oman. Descriptive interpretation of data compared findings from both universities. Frequencies, percentages and means were displayed in tables to enhance the meaning of collected data. Inferential analysis was also conducted to determine statistical significance. Findings - Overall findings indicate progressive use of social networking tools for informal scholarly communication. There is perceived usefulness on the impact of social networking tools on patterns of informal scholarly communication. However, nearly one-third of the respondents have never used social networking tools for informal scholarly communication. Institution-based data comparison revealed no significant differences on data except for few activities of informal scholarly communication. Research limitations/implications - Given that the number of study subjects was eventually small (total-382) and that academics by their very nature are disinclined to respond to online surveys, results of the study may suggest non-response errors, and these may impact negatively on the acceptability of inferences and statistical conclusions. The results of the study are, therefore, unlikely to be useful for generalization, but they remain suggestive of a growing tendency among humanities and social sciences' academics to use social networking tools for informal scholarly communication. Originality/value - Empirical findings provide a broad understanding about the potential of social networking tools on informal scholarly communication in areas of humanities and social sciences disciplines. Multi-disciplinary investigation and qualitative studies may further deepen our understanding of the impact of social networking tools on patterns of scholarly communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-241
Number of pages18
JournalElectronic Library
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 7 2015



  • Informal scholarly communication
  • Scholarly communication
  • Social media
  • Social networking tools
  • Sultan qaboos university
  • University college Dublin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications

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