Researchers in economics prefer specialised social media services

Latest study from the ZBW: One in three economists uses professional networks for research and teaching – Half of German economists use Wikipedia and content sharing tools for their work

Kiel/Hamburg, 18 November 2014: Economists at German universities and research institutes most frequently use the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, content sharing services, video and image hosting services, and video conferencing systems. Social bookmarking and microblogs such as Twitter play no part in the daily work of German economists. These are some of the findings of the first study about the use of social media among German economists which the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (www.zbw.eu) has conducted.  

For the first time the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics studied the use of social media services in economics. The representative survey focuses on Web 2.0- and social software-based technical applications among scholars in economics and related disciplines. The study is based on a sample of 766 complete datasets and describes awareness, use and type of use of various social media services among economists.     

The essential findings are as follows:

  • Economists at German universities and research institutes most frequently use the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, content sharing services, video and image hosting services and video conferencing systems.
  • In a professional context, economists primarily use highly specialised tools such as learning management and reference management systems.
  • Almost one in three German economists is active in academic and professional networks such as ResearchGate or Xing.
  • Social media services are most important in the context of research and teaching, in particular for the purpose of research and data sharing.   

The foremost reason for the increased use of so-called social media services is that it speeds up work. Wikipedia and other wikis, internet forums, and online reference management systems are quoted mostly for purposes of research. Content sharing services are highly popular for data sharing.  

It is notable that social media has arrived in economics but that there are fundamental differences in the intensity of usage among the various services.

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