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Analyzing the follower–followee ratio to determine user characteristics and institutional participation differences among research universities on ResearchGate

Weiwei Yan, Yin Zhang () and Wendy Bromfield
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Weiwei Yan: Wuhan University
Yin Zhang: Kent State University
Wendy Bromfield: Kent State University

Scientometrics, 2018, vol. 115, issue 1, 299-316

Abstract: Abstract This study aims to examine how the follower–followee ratio determines user characteristics on the academic social networking site ResearchGate (RG) and to examine institutional participation differences among research universities. It uses the follower–followee ratio as the categorization measure for grouping 87,083 RG users from 61 U.S. universities, in three research activity levels as determined by The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education (2016). As a result of analysis, individuals in the sample were further differentiated into three categories or user groups based on the follower–followee ratio: Information Source users (37.98%), Friend users (54.21%), and Information Seeker users (7.81%). These three user categories differ in overall scholarly reputation, popularity, and academic influence with a decrease from Information Source users to Information Seeker users. This study also reveals the current status of institutional participation in terms of activity level, and differences in user composition at three research activity levels. While the proportion of the Information Seeker users remains roughly the same across research activity levels, as the scholarly reputation of a university increases, there is an increase in the proportion of Friend users. The results help promote a deeper understanding of the follower–followee relationship among users on an academic social networking site, as well as the institutional user participation status. Future research should consider an international comparison between nations and disciplines. Application of this approach to other academic social networking sites would enhance general understanding of academic social networking sites and their users.

Keywords: Academic social networking site; User characteristics; User participation; Follower–followee relationship; Research activity level (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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