‘Researchers who analysed the Twitter activity of 469 postgraduates and academics found that follower counts were significantly skewed towards a small elite of users. The top 1 per cent most popular scholars accounted for 21 per cent of all followers in the study, with an average of 15,059 each.
The analysis, by George Veletsianos, Canada research chair in innovative learning and technology at Royal Roads University, and Royce Kimmons, assistant professor in instructional psychology and technology at Brigham Young University, is published in Internet and Higher Education.
Dr Veletsianos told Times Higher Education that the research demonstrated how Twitter was “not an equalising force” and instead “may recreate or foster alternative hierarchical structures”.
Dr Kimmons said that the use of social media data to measure the impact of scholarly activity – so-called altmetrics – was inevitably called into question by their findings.
“Though follower count might be used as an altmetric for impact, signifying the reach of the academic, its connection to other academic metrics of success, such as rigour and prestige, is dubious,” Dr Kimmons said.’ – Times Higher Education