Do New Forms of Scholarly Communication Provide a Pathway to Open Science?

  • Yimei Zhu

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis explores new forms of scholarly communication and the practice of open science among UK based academics. Open science broadly refers to practices that allow cost-free open access to academic research. Three aspects of open science are examined in this study: open access to research articles; open access to research data; and publishing ongoing research updates using social media.The study employs a mixed-methods approach, combining a series of scoping studies using qualitative methods followed up by an Internet survey of 1,829 UK academics. Overall this thesis has shown that whilst there is support for open science, the use of open science by academics was limited. Many academics were not aware of RCUK's open access policy and had limited experience of making their research articles freely accessible online. Most academics did not share their primary research data online. Although some academics had used a range of social media tools to communicate their research, the majority had not used social media in their research work. Overall, male, older and senior academics were more likely to use open access publishing and share primary research data, but were less likely to use social media for research. Academics based in Medical and Natural Sciences were more likely to use open access publishing and share research data, but less likely to use social media for their research compared to academics from Humanities and Social Sciences. Academics who were aware of RCUK's open access policy and who recognised the citation advantages of open access were more likely to publish in open access journals. Academics that were aware of RCUK's open access policy and had used social media for research were more likely to self-archive research articles. Academics that had used secondary data collected by others and self-archived research papers were more likely to share their own primary research data. Academics seemed to be strongly influenced by their colleagues' recommendation for the adoption of social media in research. Those who considered that the general public should know about their research findings were more likely to share their research on social media. A group of academics were identified and described as super users who frequently communicated ongoing research on social media. These super users were more likely to use tablet computers and have received social media training organised by their institutions.It is clear that open science is going to be a major factor in future academic work and in relation to building an academic career. Many academics have recognised the importance of open science. However to date the use of the tools for open science has been limited. With the right guidance and reinforcement of relevant policies, the new forms of scholarly communication can provide a pathway to open science which would serve to benefit individual academics, research communities and the public good.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorKingsley Purdam (Supervisor) & Martin Everett (Supervisor)


  • academic publishing
  • data sharing
  • social media
  • science communication
  • open science
  • scholarly communication
  • open access

Cite this