Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Librarians' Use of Social Media for Informal Scientific Communication in University Libraries in South-South Nigeria

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Librarians' Use of Social Media for Informal Scientific Communication in University Libraries in South-South Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

The term communication refers to the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information by speech, signals, writing, or behavior (Yourdictionary.om, 2016). It is also referred to as the act of conveying intended meaning from one entity or group to another through the use of mutually understood signs and semitic rules (Popoola, 2014). Berge (2017) noted that the concept of communication have some basic steps which include the forming of communicative intent, message composition, message encoding, transmission of signal using a specific channel or medium, reception of signal, message decoding and finally interpretation of the message by the recipient. Communication could be verbal or non-verbal and it could be through formal or informal means.

Librarians and other professionals communicate to brainstorm ideas, to formulate research problems, solve experimental or theoretical problems, disseminate results, and get feedback. Kumar (2014) observed that the peer-reviewed journal article - polished, archived, and findable - is only one facet of the scholarly communication process. Science is inherently social and informal scientific communication forms the backbone that connects librarians and other professionals as well as enable scientific progress (Kumar, 2014).

Pikas (2009) noted that informal scientific communication is the interactive exchange of information, ideas and thoughts between professionals in order to establish or maintain relationships, exchange information, or work collaboratively. The channel, message features, and social network influence the formulation, transmission, receipt, and understanding of messages; and also influences the selection of communication partners and timing of the communications. Pikas (2009) defined informal scientific communication as a scholarly communication that does not involve published materials that has been reviewed by peers, edited by publishers, and is retrievable through various information systems. Talja (2013) noted that Informal scientific communication refers to a communication between people (scholars) in a non-formal setting or through a non-formal means such as face-to-face discussion, exchange of personal communication, sharing views and opinions. Informal scientific communication is sometimes used to describe the informal communication network of people with like minds and similar interest. The channels established are fast and easy, while formal communication on the other hand uses public and permanent vehicles such as books, journals and monographs to transmit information (Raini, 2010).

Furthermore, Bullas (2014) observed that there are different channels through which informal scientific communication can be carried out. Such channels includes face-to-face communication among professional colleagues, seminars, reviewer notes, letters, telephone calls, and pre- and post-prints. However, with the advent of information and communication technology, professionals now communicate using social media tools such as twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and WhatsApp. Bullas (2014) defined social media as an online tool that allow interaction among individuals. Examples include LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs and Twitter. These various social media tools enhance communication among librarians and enable them to share ideas on the latest happenings in the library world. In addition, many of the prior studies on why librarians use online social media and networking tools often cite their need to communicate with each other. Marouf (2007) observed that many librarians confirmed two unintended benefits of using social media tools; the ability to spark and expand new ideas just from the direct interaction between the (micro) blogger and his/her readers and even occasionally replaces the scholar's need to publish in traditional paper publications, such as scholarly journals. He further noted that "the use of social media for informal scientific communication among librarians help to create and maintain a community or network of librarians. …

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