Academic persona: The construction of online reputation in the modern academy
Thomson Reuters, one of the largest publishers in the world, has been involved in what it calls the ‘Global Institutional Profiles Project’, in association with the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Through its five-stage data collection, the project includes a reputation survey of invited key academics in an array of fields with extensive attention to both region and discipline. The breadth of the survey is impressive, but what is perhaps most interesting is that embedded in the survey is a series of six questions specifically related to online culture and academia. In a series of online screens, participants are asked to rank universities in teaching and research individually in their discipline. The questions on social media use are trawling for a very specific change in the organisation of the knowledge economy at its intellectual apex. Those surveyed were asked to rank their use of social media for academic ends, which are defined in terms of research awareness. Blogs and social media are highlighted in the survey in terms of the blogs participants read in their field, whether they monitor social media activity in their field, and also whether they engage in the use of these forms for the promulgation of their work. The final question of this series asks for their relative connection to publishing in open source journals – a question that in its wording already acknowledges the ubiquity of this form and movement of information in their academic fields.