Imagined audiences, social media, online networks, networked scholarship, qualitative research
This study investigates the audiences that scholars imagine encountering online and the ways in which these audiences impact scholars’ online participation and presentation of self. Prior research suggests that imagined audiences affect what users share and how they present themselves on social media, but little research has examined this topic in the context of faculty members and doctoral students (i.e., scholars). An analysis of interviews with 16 scholars shows that imagined audiences span the personal–professional continuum. Further, most scholars imagined their online audiences as known and familiar. Though many recognized collapsed contexts as problematic, several others appeared more comfortable with audience collapse than prior literature suggests. Findings also suggest that scholars’ conceptualizations of their audiences differ from those of their universities, principally in that scholars imagine their audiences as communities rather than as venues for attracting professional attention.