Online collaboration: Scientists and the social network
Organisation: Nature Magazine (United Kingdom)
Publication Date: 03/27/2015
DescriptionBest entry from a small newsroom, with fewer than 25 journalists. Entry for 'Best entry from a small newsroom' category Giant academic social networks have taken off to a degree that no one expected even a few years ago. A Nature survey explores why. By Richard Van Noorden. Giant social networks for academics have taken off to an astonishing degree. If you believe the hype (and Bill Gates is one financial backer who does), millions have joined them to upload research papers and exchange conversations about their science. But Nature’s news team wanted to know: have scientists really heard of these networks? Why are they on them? What are they doing? We chose a survey approach, emailing more than 110,000 researchers to answer a customized online poll and getting more than 3,500 responses – the world’s largest survey on academic social networks. Data were cleaned and analysed in Excel. We made the survey data, and its methodology, freely available at Figshare (http://figshare.com/articles/NPG_2014_Social_Networks_survey/1132584). (At least one academic paper has already re-analyzed the data: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2507318). Once we’d pulled out trends, the bulk of the feature was written through reporting. But to make the survey come alive for our readers, we built a d3.js interactive graphic that's a variant on radar/rose diagrams, allowing users to compare the responses and uses of academics on each network.
Technologies used for this project:The survey was delivered with Confirmit market research software. A combination of Excel and command line tools were used to clean and combine the data. The interactive graphic was built with d3.js. Full (anonymized) survey data were uploaded to the data-sharing site Figshare.
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