Assessing the available and accessible evidence: How personal reputations are determined and managed online

Ryan, F., Cruickshank, P., Hall, H., Lawson, A. (2015, June). Assessing the available and accessible evidence: How personal reputations are determined and managed online. Paper presented at Information: interactions and impact (i3) 2015, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland.


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Abstract

**The slides for this paper are available at http://www.slideshare.net/justfrances/ryan-presentationi3online**

This paper is concerned with how online information contributes to the determination of personal reputations. The term “personal reputation” in this context means the reputation of private individuals, rather than corporate identity and brand. The paper’s content is based largely on a critical evaluation of the literature. This reveals clear gaps in knowledge of how online information contributes to the determination of individuals’ personal reputations, and shows that there is scope to explore the strategies that individuals deploy - whether consciously or unconsciously - to manage the online information sources that may influence how others perceive them.

Two main themes will be discussed in the paper. The first is the means by which people evaluate the personal reputations of others from the online evidence available to them. The second is how people manage their own personal reputations through their use of online information.

These themes are firmly situated within the domain of information science, where studies of everyday information behaviour, information evaluation, and the use of citations (especially in the context of academic identity), shed light on reputation building. However, much relevant academic literature is also dispersed across a number of other subject domains. Thus articles from computing, employment research, human-computer interaction, human resources management, information systems, management and organisational studies, marketing, media and communication studies, and physical and mental health contributed to the body of work reviewed for this evaluation.

The paper will conclude with a report of preliminary findings from a pilot study designed to scope and test a possible approach for a more extensive piece of largely qualitative research on the themes of the paper. The larger piece of work (to be conducted later in 2015) is expected to address important questions that have not been considered in prior studies, for example:

• To what extent are individuals concerned about how others can assess their reputations using online information sources?
• How do individuals manage combined professional and private reputations (for example, a formal presence of LinkedIn combined with another less formal one on Facebook) as one “personal” reputation?
• To what extent do individuals actively monitor their online footprints for the purpose of reputation management?

For the delegates at the i3 conference, these themes are of particular interest because they address the importance of information behaviours (how individuals manage the online information that refers to others and themselves as individuals and members of identifiable groups) and information quality (the messages that such information conveys). The ways in which individuals create, assess, and engage with information in online environments are also pertinent here, and of relevance to the i3 conference theme of information literacy.

Indicative bibliography

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Authors

Peter Cruickshank
Lecturer
p.cruickshank@napier.ac.uk
+44 131 455 2309
Alistair Lawson
Associate Professor (Reader)
al.lawson@napier.ac.uk
+44 131 455 2730
Hazel Hall
Director of CSI
h.hall@napier.ac.uk
+44 131 455 2760
Frances Ryan
Research student
f.ryan@napier.ac.uk
+44 131 455

Associated Projects