Scholars’ temporal participation on, temporary disengagement from, and return to Twitter
Keywords:social media, faculty use of social media, social and digital scholarship, online participation, temporal patterns of technology use in education
Even though the extant literature investigates how and why academics use social media, much less is known about academics’ temporal patterns of social media use. This mixed methods study provides a first-of-its-kind investigation into temporal social media use. In particular, we study how academics’ use of Twitter varies over time and examine the reasons why academics temporarily disengage and return to the social media platform. We employ data mining methods to identify a sample of academics on Twitter (n = 3,996) and retrieve the tweets they posted (n = 9,025,127). We analyze quantitative data using descriptive and inferential statistics, and qualitative data using the constant comparative approach. Results show that Twitter use is predominantly connected to traditional work hours and is well-integrated into academics’ professional endeavors, suggesting that professional use of Twitter has become “ordinary.” Though scholars rarely announce their departure from or return to Twitter, approximately half of this study’s participants took some kind of a break from Twitter. Although users returned to Twitter for both professional and personal reasons, conferences and workshops were found to be significant events stimulating the return of academic users.
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