Netiquette and profile in Science 2.0 : role-associated communication and self-projection as researcher and private person on the Social Web


In contrast to conventional closed research networks, the evolution of Web 2.0 opens up new forms of communication across the boundaries of hierarchies and disciplines and also allows (partially) the participation of the general public. This gives rise to new options of communication and self-projection. It is still unclear whether conventions and unwritten rules for these new communication situations have evolved already and if the violation of such conventions of communication can lead to (social) sanctions.

The boundaries between the various social roles of a person as researcher versus as a private person (in the sense of “online personae” according to Ranzini & Fieseler) are increasingly blurred. Services such as Twitter can be used for scholarly as well as private communication. Social networks such as Facebook render private information about individual researchers visible to anyone (beyond the usual CV).

The project orients itself on the following research questions (exemplary incomplete listing):

  • Do researchers use social media more for private or for professional purposes? What are the intentions of use? Who are the central target groups? Which Impression Management Strategies can be derived from this? How do private profiles relate to professional ones in social media?
    • Which networks and social media are used for this?
    • Are parallel accounts maintained in the same social media (for instance Twitter)?
  • Which conventions and unwritten rules are already in existence in various research networks and social media channels (profile settings, anonymous comments, appropriateness of critique…)?
  • What is the impact of academic hierarchy (e.g. students versus professors – who contacts whom? Gender impact? Interaction gender x hierarchy)? Does this impact vary according to the social media in use and the role taken (private – professional)?
  • What are the consequences/sanctions for violating the conventions and unwritten rules?
  • To what extent do conventions and sanctions serve to create the necessary foundation of trust for scientific interaction on the Web 2.0 (e.g. inappropriate anonymous comments)? To what extent does this depend on scientific ethics/diligence and Open Science?
  • To what extent do technical means influence the conventions and unwritten rules (e.g. visibility of profile visitors, option of anonymous comment)?

Preliminary works

  • Thesis at the University of St. Gallen on the perception of social interaction in various social networks from the perspective of scientists (contact Professor Christian Hoffmann)
  • Questionnaire on the netiquette between students and lecturers on Facebook (contact: Dr Stephanie Linek)

Project results and publications

  • Master thesis by Anika Ostermaier-Grabow (University of Hamburg) on the topic of Netiquette in Academic Networks: An Explorative Case Study of ResearchGate (only available in German)
  • Linek, S. B., Teka Hadgu, A., Hoffmann, Ch. P., Jäschke, R., & Puschmann, C. (2017). “It’s all about information? The following behaviour of professors and PhD students in computer science on Twitter”. Journal of Web Science, 3 (1), 1-15.
  • Linek, S. B. (2018). Students and lecturers on Facebook: gender-related differences in the view of the academic hierarchy. Proceedings of the 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference (INTED 2018), pp. 3870-3876, 5th – 7th of March, 2018, Valencia, Spain.
  • Linek, S. B., & Ostermaier-Grabow, A. (2018). Netiquette between students and their lecturers on Facebook: injunctive and descriptive social norms. Social Media + Society, Volume 4; Issue 3. Article first published online: August 7, 2018; Issue published: July 1, 2018

Project partners