The use of computer technology by academics to communicate internationally: Computer-mediated communication and the invisible college
Abstract (Summary)The purpose of this study was to investigate the networked computer use by scholars and to determine whether or not this computer use could facilitate international communication, academic collaboration and increased scholarly productivity. An electronic mail survey was sent to 1048 biologists scattered across the globe. After adjusting for invalid electronic mail addresses, 731 out of the 1048 surveys were eventually delivered and a total of 333 completed questionnaires were returned yielding a response rate of 45.6%. Although this was an extremely homogenous population, many trends emerged. Networked computer use appears to enhance perceived productivity. Collaboration via the computer is valued with respondents reporting their most frequent activities as exchanging work-related messages with colleagues from abroad, reading postings on scholarly/academic discussion groups, and exchanging work-related messages with colleagues at home institutions. Scholars reported benefiting most from exchanging messages with colleagues from abroad and from collaboration with peers. Exchanging messages and collaboration are types of informal communication which is the best means of attaining membership in an invisible college which is a group of geographically scattered academics with common research interests who determine the scholarly direction of a discipline. The more frequently a user exchanged e-mail messages, the more that user perceived gaining benefit in the ability to collaborate. Similarly, those who more frequently exchanged drafts reported higher levels of perceived benefit from enhanced contact with colleagues abroad. Exchanging messages with colleagues abroad associated moderately strongly with English proficiency. Those who reported higher levels of benefit from their CMC use also more strongly believed that CMC is changing the way academic researchers collaborate. These findings lend indirect support to the possibility that the use of networked computers could lead to increased communication, collaboration and productivity on the global level. Results showed informal communication, collaboration and self-perceived productivity are all potentially increased by network computer use. All of these factors could ultimately lead to the opportunity to join an invisible college.
School Location:USA - Massachusetts
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/01/1998