As the world increasingly turns digital, industries everywhere are scrambling to keep up with the changes. In the field of academia, this has meant that scholars have had to adjust how they apply their knowledge and disseminate it to their audience of readers. One of the biggest, most impactful ways to do this has been to turn to social media for greater exposure.
Although social media once was considered frivolous and non educational, it has slowly but steadily become acceptable for use in academic settings, particularly in forums like LinkedIn. But a new social media site has been taking over the reins as one of the leading ways for academics to leverage their research impact. Scientists everywhere are turning to Reddit for their data knowledge and to get their work out diversely.
What is Reddit?
Following slightly behind the social media mogul of Facebook, Reddit came on the scene in 2005 but wasn’t considered a significant platform until more recently. Reddit’s origins were that of a discussion board as well as a place for aggregating information informally. Over time, it has grown to include forum categories, subforums, image platforms, and bulletin boards for users to access.
Within the subforums of Reddit are communities, and each community follows its own rules and norms of how its members should behave. Some are casual, and others are academic and formal. Each community member is able to participate in long, in-depth discussions similar to the chat room days of old, or post temporary questions, images, and responses like in Twitter and Instagram.
What Kind of Academic Experts Turn to Reddit and Why?
Reddit now has over 330 million users, with the average audience being between the ages of 18 and 29, mostly American, and predominantly with a college degree. When it comes to studying how the future generation is going to be impacting the world with today’s research, this is a target audience for many researchers, and watching how these individuals interact, what is trending, and what they consider to be important can help drive many research decisions.
The information gleaned from Reddit can be applicable to just about any research field, but those scholars who tend to use Reddit for their investigations are typically involved in computer science or social sciences like communication studies, economics, human behavior, psychology, linguists, social media science, or history.
Reddit itself can be a source of study for research, since it is, in essence, its own world. With regions, communities, subcommunities, populations, democracies, agreements, arguments, and debates, the way it works is a phenomenon of interest to those who study such things.
It can also be used to aid in research as scholars attempt to collect data regarding things like consumer behavior. Joining communities that focus on the information the scholar is researching is an easy way to observe how target users think and act without sending out polls or surveys.
Using Reddit To Drive Your Research Impact
Before you dive into using Reddit to drive your research impact, it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of using the site. Because it’s an informal measure of research, make sure your steps include full transparency and all ethical and legal research study measures are followed.
Reddit is an often invaluable source of information for researchers who are looking for characteristics in data collection such as:
● Large samples of information that can be obtained over a short period with random demographics in the population of respondents
● Topic-based information through strategically targeted observation of subreddits based on particular demographics or specifically chosen interests
● Economic factors, such as limited budgets, since these studies are mostly free unless chosen to be otherwise by the researcher, which is enticing and beneficial for early career researchers and those who are still attempting to obtain their degrees
But there are disadvantages to using Reddit that you should be aware of, including:
● The typical concern of human behavior that people hiding behind a screen and username are not always honest
● The potential of low membership in a chosen subreddit community
● It is informally collected and may not be deemed appropriate for all studies
● Ethical considerations are harder to enforce
If you are able to move past these disadvantages and consider Reddit to be beneficial to your particular study, it may help you to leverage your research impact.