Survey: How our scientists use social media

When not in the lab, our scientists also use social media to engage.

We recently surveyed our scientists and some of their partners around the world: How are you using social media for science-related activities?

The results show that respondents believe there is a place for social media in science, especially in the areas of information sharing, collaboration, knowledge building and networking. So far, our scientists and their external partners are particularly active in professional networks, wikis and blogs but less so on online forums and microblogging outlets such as Twitter.

“Social media are like any medium of communications,” one respondent wrote in the comments. “Saying that social media are not important is isolating you as a scientist … (which) rarely leads to new science.”

Here are some of the highlights of the survey, based on 372 responses*:

How much value does social media deliver to scientists?

  • Absolutely essential: 6 percent
  • Very valuable: 18 percent
  • Valuable: 33 percent
  • Somewhat valuable: 35 percent
  • Minimum value: 8 percent

What is the value in social media?

  • Information sharing/collaboration: 62 percent
  • Knowledge building: 61 percent
  • Networking: 61 percent
  • Participating in discussion: 33 percent
  • Getting the message out/thought leadership: 10 percent

Do you participate in social media? And why?

  • Yes: 71 percent
  • Science-related activity: 71 percent
  • Personal activity: 69 percent

How do you use social media?

  • Read/watch online content: 61 percent
  • Post comments: 18 percent
  • Join conversations: 17 percent
  • Update status online: 10 percent
  • Generate content: 7 percent

What kinds of channels do you participate in (among those using social media)?

  • Professional networks: 79 percent
  • Wikis: 53 percent
  • Blogs: 50 percent
  • Yammer: 48 percent
  • Social networks: 25 percent
  • Video sharing sites: 23 percent
  • Online forums/roundtables: 21 percent
  • Presentation sharing sites: 17 percent
  • Photo sharing sites: 14 percent
  • Microblogging: 9 percent

We will use these results to help inform our R&D social media communications strategies for 2012 and beyond.

In the meantime, how do you think social media can be used to promote research and development in the pharmaceutical industry?

*95 percent of the results came from AZ scientists, with the rest from their external network of scientists. 37 percent of the respondents were from the UK, followed by 31 percent from Sweden and 25 percent from the United States. The additional 7 percent were from India, Canada and other western European nations.


  • A lot of value can be derived from peer to peer communication through social media channels

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  • My view on social media, whether you are a scientist on not, is that some people find it a great way to keep in touch and share information. If the people you want to speak to and communicate with as using social media then use it as a really effective channel. An interesting aspect of this would be the age group of the respondants. If our Scientists today are not using social media then our next generation most certainly will.