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Social networks and their positive impact on research and dissemination

Console Quintana Rojo, University of Castilla-La Mancha

One of the world’s first social networks was created in 1997 and is called six degrees. His name derives from the hypothesis proposed by sociologist Standley Milgram in 1967 and subsequently confirmed by Professor Duncan Watts in 2001, that the planet Everyone on is connected to each other at a distance of no more than six known people. .

Today, a social network can be defined as any internet service that allows people to interact with each other. One possible classification is:

  1. Horizontal social network: Those created for the general public rather than a specific type of user. The goal is to create community and personal or professional use. E.g: TwitterFacebook, Instagram, TickTok…
  2. Vertical social network: Connect with audiences who share your interests. For example: those networks on a specific topic, like the Reddit social network, or other networks dedicated to professional and entrepreneurial women, like Womenalia, or networks in the scientific community, like ResearchGate, Publons,, Divulgared, or even educational networks like : Children’s Reading Library, RedAlumno, Dictalia, Twiducate, Moodle, etc.
  3. Professional social network: The most famous and most used is LinkedIn.
  4. Shared content network: Those whose goal is to share their original content, such as YouTube.
  5. Blog and Weibo: Where written content is shared and frequently used in the business world: Blogger and WordPress, for example, or Twitter and Tombola.

Does it work that badly?

Like almost everything, social networks are not inherently good or bad, but they can be used for good or bad. On the one hand, their uncontrolled and excessive use carries a host of risks, especially during childhood and adolescence.

Some of these risks are misinformation, increased instances of possible bullying or cyberbullying, reduction and replacement of actual social skills practice by controlled interactions, or the need to pass numbers for approval and acceptance like Or followers and their effect on self-esteem etc.some even consider social networking Twitter Like a mirror of our hatred.

However, the impact of social networking today has a positive side, especially from an educational and research perspective.

social networking and education

One of the impacts of networks on our society is that they enable us to interact, share knowledge and form communities in the most special or personal spheres as well as those of institutions.

More and more professionals devote part of their time to disseminating their knowledge.A clear example is Lucía Galán Bertrand, who Luciami Pediatrician, the pediatrician knew about the disclosure and appeared on social networks. With over 735,000 followers, it helps fathers, mothers, teens and even educators with everything related to pediatrics.

Bearing in mind that the obligation of education is to prepare talents for the future, the existence and importance of networking cannot be ignored, both within educational institutions and among educators.

Aware of this need, many universities have analyzed the use of social networks and other digital platforms (e.g. blogs, wikis, YouTube) in education and their positive impact:

  1. information exchange.
  2. Possibility of content creation and its modification.
  3. Agile, instant and permanent access to educational content.
  4. Flexibility in space and time.

social networks in research

If we do a quick bibliometric analysis using the Scopus database and the search term «social network», it reports results for 1,276 documents where the term «social network» is used by different researchers from all over the world. The title, abstract or keywords of the work. (term in English, Social networkyields 359 144 documents).

Through the analysis of the words in the abstract and the keywords used by the authors in these scientific documents, we made the following keyword co-occurrence map based on the bibliometric data:

Figure 1. RRSS keyword co-occurrence graph. Through VOSviewer’s own elaboration.

Social Behavior and Education

The results provide us with information in a fast manner, not only about the number of surveys, but also about the content of surveys and publications, and the methods used in relation to social networks.

This graph allows us to observe different groups (known in English as cluster) various colors. Each group has specific characteristics:

It allows us to observe the presence of social network studies (cluster Green) is closely related to news, media, social networks (of which Twitter and Facebook stand out), media credibility, misinformation or fake news; but also social movements, immigrant populations, election campaigns…

We also see in cluster Purple is the direction of research using the information provided by social networks: medicine is one of the main fields of research: covid-19, epidemics, epidemics, mental health, public health, medical information, procedures, disinformation, urology, pediatrics… The methods used in these studies are machine learning, quantitative analysis, reviews and sentiment analysis.

Demographics and Social Behavior

Studies relevant to certain countries also emerged, such as Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, with methods focused on cross-sectional studies or surveys.In addition, qualitative studies related to family, health, knowledge and age are categorized under cluster blue.

this cluster Red is the study of social behavior: addiction, adolescence, bullying, cyberbullying, privacy, free speech, hate, acceptability of technology, social movements, immigrant populations, civic engagement, etc. Another most studied topic is the relationship between social networks and education: secondary education, higher education, university students, learning, collaborative learning, training of trainers and innovation, etc.

this cluster Yellow provides us with research information related to innovation, marketingtourism, business, e-commerce or entrepreneurship, etc.; and the methods used: surveys, questionnaires, Web 2.0 technologies, statistics, Big DataBibliometrics, artificial intelligence, machine learning (machine learning), sentiment analysis, quantitative analysis, social network analysis…

change of interest

We analyze the time frame in the following graph:

Figure 2. Map of co-occurrence analysis of RRSS by year. Through VOSviewer’s own elaboration.

Our research looking at social networks has also changed: from 2014 to 2018, there was more focus on social analysis, analysis of adolescent human behavior, human interaction; from 2018 to 2020, surveys were more on news, trustworthiness, Twitter and social networks like Facebook, free speech, fake news, election campaigns, political messages, conservation of natural resources, pandemics, covid -19.

invest or waste time

Not only can social networks be used to «waste time», but we can «dedicate» some of our time to personal use, thanks to acts such as disclosure.

Let’s bet to alleviate the negative effects of the current that has become a part of our lives and encourage the positive parts of it.

Consoli Quintana Rojo, PhD in Economics and Business. Professor and researcher in the field of applied economics at the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences of Ciudad Real, University of Castilla-La Mancha

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original text.

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