How do scientists represent themselves in social networks?


Since recently the problem of interaction between scientists and the media has become much more acute, I would like to talk more about the self-representations of scientists in social networks.

Often a Facebook profile allows you to find "keys" to a person, to understand what is interesting and important to him/her, and where are the contact points that are necessary to start a dialogue.

Perhaps this article, dedicated to the social image of a scientist, will help to strengthen that shaky bridge of interaction between science and the media, which enthusiasts from both sides are trying to build.

So, I present to your attention the classification of scientists regarding their profiles and behavior in global social networks (the classification is unquestionably subjective, without claims to be scientific, which gives you the right to stop reading on this point).

But, if you are still reading, here come the scientists by the profile type:

1. «Official»

As a rule, profile`s owner is strongly attached to the organization where he or she works. Therefore, first of all on this page you can see the informational letters of conferences, which are held by his department or faculty, photo reports from round tables, congratulations from colleagues, monograph scans published by employees of the department or department, and similar content. In general the profile of such a scientist resembles more a public page of the place where he works. But such a profile serves as an important information source in the circle of "personal contacts" of its owner.

In addition, from a historical point of view, the corporate ethics of the scientific world should be understood exclusively positively - it helps to survive the "hardest times". And "officials" are the ones that hold the unwritten "the Bushido Code" of science.

2. «Mediator of public opinion»

The main content on the page of such a scientist is formed from discussion articles around the hot issues from his field of knowledge. As a rule he or she has more than 1000 friends, most of whom are colleagues working all over the country or even all over the world. Many of their friends are actively involved in discussions on the materials posted on "mediators" page. At the same time, the discussion is problematic, but it rarely comes to aggression and personal humiliation.

It is often difficult to distinguish between an "official" and a "mediator", because socially active and authoritative scholars with high academic positions mainly represent a mixed type.

3. «Troll»

This characteristic can be applied to a scientist basing not mainly on his personal profile, but regarding his/her behavior in scientific discussions on the web-pages and forums. "Troll" does not matter with whom to argue and about whatsubject, the main thing is to talk back, proving the contrary. In this process “troll” is improving his rhetorical skills (which are, indeed, essentially important for a lecturer).

What makes the discussion really aggressive? "Troll" would not accept the arguments of the opponent. Moreover, he does not hear other opinions at all, but constantly repeats his thought, paraphrasing it. And here the rich vocabulary of a troll scientist makes him/her almost completely invincible, unlike a network marketing employee who uses the same methods.

Once my colleague has given an ideal advice on how to conduct a discussion with this type: "Do not feed a troll". I'm far from the game world, but the message is clear: anything you addto the dialogue "troll" will use against you.

"Troll" starts his attack from a half-turn, even after reading a brief information message. For example, some Institute of Marine Mammals reports about a round table dedicated to the underwater world of the Arctic. Possible "troll`s” reactions: a) to blame the organizing committee for the fact that the round table did not involve the recognized authorities; B) to blame the organizing committee for inexcusably high fees; c) to explain that in the national science the underwater world of the Arctic is an irrelevant issue, already studied and ideologically biased. What positive thing "troll" brings to the world? Sometimes he can attract public attention to the problematic questions by fomenting around them a discussion, which is afterwards joined by the other scientists who are ready to conduct a well-reasoned conversation and accept someone else's opinion.

4. «Expert in science metrics»

This type is a scientist who believes in the omnipotence of science metrics, and most of his posts touch on the search for objective methods to measure the effectiveness of scientific activity.

Such a “metrics expert" can be identified by the two types of posts:

A) Researchers in humanities are needlessly "burning" the budget money, but their science metric indexes are quite low (I will not spent the time proving the opposite, but only because this article is not about the "measurability" of humanitarian achievements);

B) All printed products, if there is no article with “experts” authorship, are bogue (low-quality magazines dealing with the imitation of science). “Metrics expert" can be easily recognized with overuse of “keywords”, which include: "scientometric base", "Scopus", "Hirsch index", "bogue", “fake”, "citation", "impact factor", "imitation of science", "primitivism". By the way, scientists of this type use Hirsch index as a thing to brag with, just as teenagers boast with cool smartphones models.

The “metrics expert" presents himself as a defender of the purity of science, forgetting that in reality scientometry sometimes overshadows this very pure and great occupation. But in general, this character is positive, because finally the average taxpayer wants to know for what merits he pays money to scientists. Therefore some criteria for describing scientific successes and failures are still needed.

5. «Worker of the month»

If he works in the research institute - proves that university science does not exist, if he works in a university - he says that research institutes are ineffective. As an argument, he presents either a pedagogical load or the notorious "Hirsch index".

At the same time, I haven`t seen any objective statistical research comparing the successes of academic and university science, taking into account the lecturers hours (if you know some, share the link). But "workers of the month" often refer to their very abstract calculations. Briefly, these people are asking for their place on the "honors board." What causes this "search for the enemy" - logic can`t explain, rather, it's a tradition. I confess that sometimes I feel it myself: I work in a university, my husband - in research institute, so when it comes to washing up, we argue who was more tired at work.

6. Traveler

The main content on this scientist`s page are photographs from various places, that he was lucky to see during the work trips. In my opinion – just a positive person. This type increases the social prestige of science, as an activity that gives an opportunity to see the world. The by-passing popularizer of science, as I would say.

As you can see, scientists in social networks represent themselves in different ways. And I’ll repeat: the classification given here does not pretend to be all-embracing (I did not meet all of these types of scientists on the web; of course, there are many anonymous people; most of scientists are mixed types "on the border"). But, you must agree that described cases are typical and so - you have to deal with them ...

Valeriia Lavrenko


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