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

TitleThe Use of Social Media to Foster Trust, Mentorship, and Collaboration in Scientific Organizations
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsMurthy, D, Hastings, CM, Mawrie, SA
JournalBulletin of Science, Technology & Society
Pagination170 - 182
Date PublishedJan-10-2014
ISSN Number0270-4676
AbstractMany 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.
Short TitleBulletin of Science, Technology & Society