‘The Use of Social Media to Foster Trust, Mentorship, and Collaboration in Scientific Organizations

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Murthy, Dhiraj ; Mawrie, Somya A. ; Hastings, Calla M. (2014)
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications

Many domains are well known for their resistance to social media. Currently, there is a dearth of literature that explores social media use in these contexts. This study seeks to help address this gap by evaluating the use of social media within a scientific organization (anonymized as SciCity) that has a strong virtual presence and quarterly face-to-face meet-ups. We evaluated SciCity’s use of social media to foster trust, collaboration, and mentorship. We found that the prominent social media platform Twitter fosters trust among organizational members and plays a role in creating and maintaining lightweight collaborative relationships. Additionally, Twitter-based relationships often act as precursors to collaborations that occur face-to-face. However, Twitter, by itself, was not found to be successful in promoting formal collaborations. Though the medium did facilitate sporadic mentoring, supplementary non-social media-based communication was needed to form mentorship relationships. Twitter was also found to serve as a “social lubricant,” making contact easier and faster, thereby helping foster a scientific social network. Though minor in its role in specifically fostering scientific collaboration, the use of social media by SciCity indicates a shift toward acceptable uses of social media for scientific organizations that have traditionally been hesitant to use social media.
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