Social media for professional development and networking opportunities in academia

Donelan, Helen (2016). Social media for professional development and networking opportunities in academia. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 40(5) pp. 706–729.



The research reported on in this article explores the use of social media for work-related or professional purposes. In particular, it focuses on the perceptions and use of social media by academics in the UK. The purpose of the research was to explore the potential social media has to facilitate the changing landscape of higher education and support the individual academic in their role. Of particular interest is how specific social media tools are being used to enhance networking opportunities and contribute to career progression. The use of social media was explored in detail through interviews and a survey. Typical activities that are currently being undertaken were identified and user group profiles developed that articulate different levels of engagement with these tools and the motivations that each group of users have for using social media. The study found that, with increasing levels of activity, the number of motivations for using social media increase, as does the perceived number of successful outcomes, including contributions towards career progression. The main barriers to using social media were identified as a lack of time and skills to undertake these activities, as well as a negative perception of social media. Recommendations for increasing participation are to provide practical training, including the sharing of good practice, and to initiate dialogues within institutions regarding the potential career progression opportunities that social media may afford.

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