Even through many professional organizations increasingly use Q&A sites in their online communities for information sharing, there are few studies which examine what is really going on in the Q&A activities in professional online communities (POC). This study aims to examine the interaction patterns and contents posted in the Q&A site of a POC, KOSEN, a science and technology online community in South Korea, focusing on how actively scientific information and knowledge are shared. The interaction patterns among the participants were identified through social network analysis (SNA) and the contents in the Q&As were examined by content analysis. The results show that the overall network indicated a moderate level of participation and connection and answerers especially tended to be active. Also, there are different interaction patterns depending on academic fields. Relatively few participants were posting leaders who seemed to steer the overall interactions. Furthermore, some content related to manipulation and explanation for experiments, which are in urgent need, seem to be posted in the sites more frequently with more amounts. Combining both SNA and content analysis, this study demonstrated how actively information and knowledge is shared and what types of contents are exchanged. The findings have practical implications for POC managers and practitioners.
information sharing; professional online community; interaction pattern; SNA; content analysis; KOSEN
Journal of Information Science Theory and Practice