Yimei Zhu

Contact information

Dr Yimei Zhu

Lecturer in Digital Media

School of Media, Communication and Sociology
University of Leicester
Room 0.01B Bankfield House,
132 New Walk
Leicester, LE1 7JA

Tel: 0116 2525486

Email: yz411@le.ac.uk
Twitter: @yimeizhu
Blog: http://yimeizhueresearch.wordpress.com


Personal details

PhD Sociology, University of Manchester

MA Sociology, University of Manchester

MA Film Studies, University of Reading

My PhD was funded by School of Social Sciences (3-year studentship, £ 51,768), University of Manchester. It applied mixed-methods of a large scale survey and qualitative interviews. It investigated the influence of science policy on scholarly communication and academics’ attitudes and practice towards open science and the use of social media.

Career experience

I am a lecturer in Digital Media in School of Media, Communication and Sociology, University of Leicester. I teach and support a range of modules in relation to media and communication theories and research methods with a focus on social media and big data. Before taking up the lectureship, I worked as a research associate with Dr Giuseppe A. Veltri on social identity change under the socio-economic crisis within European societies for University of Leicester. Previously I worked as a post-doc research associate for Mitchell Centre for Social Network Analysis, University of Manchester. I have taught over a wide range of Sociology and quantitative & qualitative research methods courses to UG and PGT students as well as supervising students’ projects. I also conducted consultant work on Chinese social media Weibo for Durham University and Aston University.


I have extensive experience using survey methods and quantitative analysis and I am interested in developing innovative research methods to collect online data. I have a broad research interests studying new media from sociological perspective—how new technology changed the way people think and behave (attitudes and experiences). My research interests include science communication, health communication, social capital and digital participation, trust and online communities, higher education branding on social media. I am currently working on a number of research projects:

1). Digital labour and wellbeing—a quantitative examination of digital workers’ job insecurity and mental health in mainland China, College of Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities Research Development Fund £3,920.

2). The influence of social media and social capital on Postpartum depression in China, Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund, £1990.

3) Social media use and Chinese international students’ social capital and belonging to UK universities, School of Media, Communication & Sociology Research Support Fund. £1923

4) Big data analysis of mental health discussion on Chinese microblogging site Weibo, School of Media, Communication and Sociology Research Support Fund. £1984.

5) How senior citizens use social media to obtain health information in China, College of Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities Research Development Fund £4,978.

6) UK universities’ participation and interaction with Chinese students on Weibo and WeChat, School of Media, Communication & Sociology Research Support Fund. £1,997

7) Explore mental health and wellbeing of young professionals working in Esports industry in China, International Research Development Fund: non-ODA, £2,446



Journal article

Zhu, Y. (2020). Open access policy and data sharing practice in UK academia. Journal of Information Science, 46(1): 41-52. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0165551518823174

Ye, B., Zhu, Y., Wang, X., Wei, S., & Liang, Y. (2020). Association between sleep-wake habits and use of health care services of middle-aged and elderly adults in China. Aging, 12(4): 3926-3935. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18632/aging.102860

Zhu, Y. (2019). Social media engagement and Chinese international student recruitment: Understanding how UK HEIs use Weibo and WeChat. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education. Online First at: https://doi.org/10.1080/08841241.2019.1633003

Wang, F., Zhang, L., Zhang, P. Cheng, Y., Ye, B., He, M., Guo, H., Zhang, X., Yuan, J., Chen, W., Wang, Y., Yao, P., Wei, S., Zhu, Y., & Liang, Y. (2019). The Effect of Physical Activity on Hospital Service Use and Expenditures of Patients with Coronary Heart Disease: Results from Dongfeng-Tongji Cohort Study in China. Current Medical Science, 39(3):483-492. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11596-019-2063-x

Zhu, Y. (2019). Open-access policy and data-sharing practice in UK academia. Journal of Information Science. Online First at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0165551518823174

Zhu, Y., & Purdam, K. (2017). Social media, science communication and the academic super user in the United Kingdom. First Monday, 22(11).  Online at http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/7866/6560

Zhu, Y. (2017) Who support open access publishing? Gender, discipline, seniority and other factors associated with academics’ OA practice. Scientometrics, 111(2), 557-579.


Zhu, Y. & Procter, R. (2015). Use of blogs, Twitter and Facebook by UK PhD students for scholarly communication. Observatorio (OBS*) Journal, Vol 9, no2, p. 029-046. http://obs.obercom.pt/index.php/obs/article/view/842


Book Chapter

Zhu, Y. (2016) ‘Academics’ active and passive use of YouTube for research and leisure’ in Antonella Esposito (ed.) Research 2.0 and the Impact of Digital Technologies on Scholarly Inquiry. IGI Global. http://www.igi-global.com/book/research-impact-digital-technologies-scholarly/150396


Conference Proceedings

Zhu, Y. (2014) ‘Seeking and sharing research information on social media: A 2013 survey of scholarly communication' in Rospigliosi, Asher & Greener, Sue (ed.) Proceedings of European Conference on Social Media ECSM 2014, 10-11 July 2014, University of Brighton. Brighton: Academic Conferences & Publishing International, p. 705-712. https://www.escholar.manchester.ac.uk/item/?pid=uk-ac-man-scw:229261


Teaching and Supervision

I am the leader of two PGT modules:

MS7043 Digital Media and Everyday Life

MS7085 Making the Web


I supervise Undergraduate, Postgraduate and PhD students on their dissertations/thesis.

My current PhD students are

Mr. Kaimeng Guo https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/media/people/Research-Students/guo-kaimeng/guo-kaimeng (as first supervisor)

Mr. Khamis Ambusaidi https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/media/people/Research-Students/khamis-ambusaidi) (as second supervisor)


I welcome PhD proposals in the areas of health communication, science communication and the study of Chinese social media such as Weibo and WeChat use from sociological perspectives. I also welcome research proposal on social media use in higher education. I specifically welcome applicant with strong quantitative and computational research skills (e.g. use of SPSS, R, Python).

I am particularly interested in supervising PhD projects in

1)    The use of internet technology in health communication in relation to digital divide and fake news.

2)    The association between the use of social media and users’ social capital & cultural capital.

3)    Trust and online/offline community (e.g. online dating, hospitality network, Airbnb, Meetup.com, RED)

4)    Big data and computational social science related project.

Professional activities

Fellow of the British Higher Education Academy

Member of International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR)

Member of International Communication Association (ICA)

Reviewer of leading international journals including Scientometrics and Journal of Information Science.

Research grants and awards

2019 International Research Development Fund: non-ODA £2,446

2019 College of Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities Research Development Fund £3,920

2018 School of Media, Communication & Sociology Research Support Fund. £1,984

2018 Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund £1,990

2018 School of Media, Communication & Sociology Research Support Fund. £1923

2018 College of Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities Research Development Fund £4,978

2017 International Office Seed Fund—Use Chinese social media £2000

2017 School of Media, Communication & Sociology Research Support Fund. £1,997

2013 The Higher Education Academy Fund—Changing the Learning Landscape: embed new technology and social media in teaching and learning. £ 500


Academic Service for School of Media, Communication and Sociology

Web & Social Media Strategy Lead

English Language Teaching Unit (ELTU) Lead


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Contact Details

School of Media, Communication and Sociology

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Research degrees (campus-based and distance learning courses)
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