Facebook for Academics

Library of Celsus, Wayne Noffsinger

© Catherine Jenkins 2017 is a social media platform allowing academics to post papers and other academic information in a mission to share and accelerate research dissemination. Launched in 2008, it has grown to over 47-million users, with over 2-million research interests, and over 17-million posted papers. The platform allows users to post abstracts or papers, as well as follow academics of interest to their area of research. Each month, attracts over 36-million unique visitors, and a recent study by PLOS ONE indicated that papers posted on the site garner a 69% increase in citations over five years. Researchers can search by a scholar’s name, article title, or subject area to find work most pertinent to their interests. The site also maintains a blog, and a job board.

The platform allows users to monitor analytics for their profiles and individual papers, making it clear which papers are generating the most interest. has been reported on, generally positively, in popular journals including Nature, Wired, The Washington Post, The Economist, Fortune, Bloomberg, Forbes, and Scientific American. One concern about posting research material online is the prospect of copyright infringement. has a clear copyright statement, threatening to disable or terminate user accounts of repeat offenders; however, the onus is on the researcher whose intellectual property has been infringed upon to report such violations. In 2013, academic press Elsevier demanded that remove over 2800 article authors had posted, citing copyright violation. Another potential concern is that because researchers post their own papers, they may not have received peer review.

Although I’ve had an account with since 2011, with a modest 38 followers, I’ve been cautious about uploading much content. My conference abstracts are there, but not the full papers. I uploaded a book chapter several years after hard copy publication, and once it was contractually permissible. Occasionally, people have requested copies of full papers, and I’ve always asked why they want them.

I appreciate the site’s analytics, which allow me to see which of my posted conference abstracts are garnering the most interest, and might be worth developing into longer papers. It’s also fun to review which countries are popping up. Apparently, I have a global academic reach! Although the majority of views have been Canadian or American, I’ve also had several hits from the UK and Australia, as well as numerous countries in Europe and Asia—and even one from Vatican City! Although is sometimes compared with LinkedIn, I’ve found it more useful than my (now defunct) LinkedIn account. Unlike on Facebook, you won’t find any cute cat pictures, but is a simple and viable way to share research and see who’s doing what.


CMN 300 Assignment

Last term I created a successful assignment for CMN 300 (Communication in the Computer Industry) that may have general applicability.  Essentially, I asked students to work in groups to create an oral proposal, presented to the class, to recommend a change to Ryerson’s Digital Media Experience Lab.

The inspiration came from a short talk to Procom faculty in August by one of Ryerson’s computer science undergrads, who explained that the lab appealed particularly to students in his department. The groups produced very creative solutions, and they did a great job creating professional PowerPoints and communicating enthusiasm for their hypothetical projects.  The written summaries linked to the presentations were less impressive, but the content was essential for assessing the persuasive elements.

File: CMN 300 Proposal

Grading Standards for Written Work

Copyright © 2017 by Linda Schofield

Maaany years ago, when Procom was known as “The Department of Business and Technical Communication,” we created an information sheet that described the criteria for assigning various letter grades to professional communication assignments in our courses, primarily CMN 432 and CMN 124.  Working from a draft, as a group we painstakingly revised the wording in a departmental meeting until we were able to agree on common standards.  I still use this document to help students understand what assumptions are behind the assigning of a “C,” “B” etc.

Not everyone was comfortable with this approach, of course, but if you think the document might be helpful, you’re welcome to use or revise it: gradingstandards-1

Request for Submissions

As mentioned before the break, I’d like to add a category to the blog that archives teaching tips from our group. This could be a sample assignment, rubric or exercise that worked well, a document you created that clarifies a teaching principle, or an approach you take that you believe others can follow that increases efficiency or facilitates student learning.

Each submission will be posted separately, with a copyright notice, and categorized under “Teaching Tips,” for ease of reference. I’ll start the ball rolling with two of my own—a new idea and an old one.

Additionally, if you’re comfortable sending me any publication (interpreted loosely) that you don’t mind being included on the ProCUPE publication page, then please email the file or link. Michael, Catherine, Rob and John have already allowed access to their great material.

In the hope it will help coax any reluctant members to send something, I’ll post an old article from my pre-Ryerson days. Though there is some discussion of rhetoric, I have to confess the subject appeals to a rather small audience and is best tackled when battling insomnia.

I trust you all had time to decompress. My apologies for breaking into that calm. However, I assume if I didn’t ask for material before the oncoming work storm, we’d have to wait another four months….