Social media, science communication and the academic super user in the United Kingdom


  • Yimei Zhu
  • Kingsley Purdam



Open Science, Collaboration, Communication Channels, Engagement, Intellectual Property, Social Media


The Internet and social media tools have created new opportunities for open science including communicating in more interactive ways and sharing research data. Drawing on evidence from interviews and a survey of academics in the United Kingdom our research suggests that most scholars recognised the value and importance of more open science communication and data sharing, but many had concerns about the potential risks. A small group, who can be termed super users, were frequently communicating updates of their ongoing research. It is clear that there are increasing opportunities for more open science and public engagement but challenges remain.

Author Biographies

Yimei Zhu

Lecturer in Digital Media in School of Media, Communication and Sociology, University of Leicester. Yimei has extensive experience using mixed-methods and is interested in developing innovative research methods to collect online data. Yimei’s research interests include scholarly and science communication, Chinese social media, social capital, and online communities. Yimei teach a range of modules in relation to research methods, big data and digital communication.


Kingsley Purdam

Senior lecturer in social research methods and statistics at the University of Manchester, U.K. He is an expert in rights, equality and labour markets and conducting research with hard to reach groups. He has experience in conducting social research for the Home Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for Work and Pensions and charities including Crisis and The Big Issue. He has also conducted research on vulnerability in the UK on behalf of the International Labour Organisation. His research has been cited in the House of Lords in the U.K. and has been featured widely in the media including the BBC. An impact film is being made of his research. He has published his research in a number of leading academic journals including: Environment and Planning, Sociology, Current Sociology, Population, Space and Place, European Sociological Review and British Journal of Politics and International Relations.





How to Cite

Zhu, Y., & Purdam, K. (2017). Social media, science communication and the academic super user in the United Kingdom. First Monday, 22(11).