Introduction: The students’ interest in virtual social networks may have an effect on their academic capabilities. Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate the role of virtual social networks in the research capabilities of postgraduate students.
Materials and Methods: Regarding the basic strategy, the methodology of the research was quantitative regarding the executive strategy, it was survey research and regarding the analytical techniques, it was ex-post facto research. The population of the study consisted of postgraduate students in the master's program in Tehran, Allameh Tabatabai, Mohaghegh Ardabil and Shahid Beheshti Universities in the academic year 2013-2014 with an approximate volume of 20,000. Simple random sampling was used in this study. 377 students selected based on Kregci-Morgan table with the error α=0/05served as the participants of the study. The instruments for data collection included two questionnaires, one on Virtual Social Networks (reliability α=0.66), and the other on Research Capabilities (reliability α=0.97) in eight subscales. The validity of the questionnaires was confirmed by experts in the field. The obtained data were analyzed by SPSS software, version 20 using Multivariate Analysis Test.
Results: We found that the use of social networks by the students had a statistically significant effect on their research capabilities such as ability to choose the topic and explain eight components of research problems, the ability to search the web, proficiency in academic writing, data collection, the ability to categorize and analyze data, the ability to develop, interpret and report the results. However, the effect on the students’ ability to take notes and follow research ethics was not found to be significant. Also the effect of gender on choosing the topic, explaining the research problem and writing well was significant, but on the other components was not significant.
Conclusion: Social networks, with their reliance on hypertext capabilities, have resulted in more research capabilities in students who use such networks. Thus, policy-makers and practitioners in virtual domains should pay more attention to education, expert and continual monitoring of the networks, and planning for the future.