Digital Researcher #druwe

Social media on electronic displayThis week I ran a workshop at UWE on the use of social media in the context of research. This workshop is along similar lines to a workshop that I ran in February 2012 for researchers and a workshop at the Vitae Conference in September 2012 for researcher skills developers from across the country.

Some context then about this workshop; researchers are changing the way they use digital tools in the context of their research. There is lots of work going on as part of the wider JISC Developing Digital Literacies programme including work being carried out by Vitae to better understand the development needs of researchers.

I’m interested in the digital literacy of researchers for a couple of reasons:

1) It surely makes sense to better understand how researchers use digital tools in the context of research so that we are better able to support them

2) I believe that these digital tools are key to researchers building their own professional profile in an increasingly competitive academic research environment.

The slides I used to support this workshop are below.

Prezi for #druwe

Prezi for #druwe


We started out the morning by highlighting some of the hopes & fears that researchers have about using social media tools… I predicted that the fears would fall into three broad categories:

  1. Information overload – the fear that engaging in social media would be too much information to keep track of
  2. Digital Identity – concern over what to share about oneself, privacy issues and the blurring of private versus professional
  3. Data/intellectual property concerns – what happens if I share something that someone else exploits/stealing of ideas
Hopes and fears

Hopes and fears


Basic overview of what is out there

Getting research out there

To become more aware of others with similar interest & activities to my own

Catch up with colleagues who use twitter/blogs naturally

Which button do I press?

How to quantify opinion (or research data) gathered via social media tools


Maintaining privacy

Managing a digital reputation

How do I edit the digital me?

Will this become another distraction?

Digital Identity

We spent some time discussing online identity, how to balance the “personal me” vs the “professional me”, how different tools lend themselves to different purposes and how actively managing information about yourself is a good thing to do.

“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it”.Erik Qualman



We asked the participants to use twitter to interact with their networks using the hashtag #druwe

Power of networks

We discussed a little bit of network theory, illustrated by this video for a TEDx talk by Zella King

Managing information overload

We had a look at portals and aggregators to help manage information streams.

Using social media tools in research

There is increasing concern about ensuring rigour when using digital tools to gather research data. At UWE, we have some guidance available on the Research Ethics pages. I think there is still some way to go to understand better how this area of social media use can be supported.

We discussed how research is social & iterative, the benefits of engaging with folks far and wide about your research outputs and how to use tools to make the finding out about knowledge a little easier. We had a play around with some social citation tools, e.g. CiteULike, Zotero & Mendeley


We discussed why folks blog – a variety of reasons including:- organising thoughts, mind dump, getting feedback at an early stage etc.

This blog is a just one such example!


Summed up with “Common sense!”

Other sources of information

Here’s a list of things that I have come across recently on the topic of social media in research (clearly not exhaustive!):-

A blog about blogging in an academic research context from Imperial College – some really interesting advice and guidance here.

The Networked Researcher blog site which promotes the use of social media tools for researchers – “Digital Professionalism – what not to share”

The British Library – Help for Researchers – “Web 2.0 as a social science research tool”

The Guardian Higher Education site – discussing benefits of blogging as a researcher – “How blogging helped me find my research voice”

The Research Information Network site – “Social Media: A Guide for Researchers”

The Vitae/Open University “Social Media Handbook for researchers and supervisors”

Thanks to the researcher who attended both physically and virtually!

7 thoughts on “Digital Researcher #druwe

  1. Great workshop Paul and good to see you practice what you preach with a really useful blog post too! A couple of things that may be of interest:
    The Social Research Associaton is hosting a conference on ‘Social Media in Social Research Conference’, on June 24th in central London:
    There’s also a new network looking at ‘should social scientists embrace social media and, if so, what are the implications for methods and practice?’ On 11 March, 4 – 5pm the network will be hosting a Twitter chat:

  2. Pingback: How to write an internationally excellent paper | The Digitally Connected Researcher

  3. Pingback: Digital Researcher for RTSD #druwe Nov 2014 | The Digital Doctorate

  4. Pingback: Digital Researcher for RTSD #druwe Nov 2015 | The Digital Doctorate

  5. Pingback: Overcoming blogging anxiety | The Digital Doctorate

  6. Pingback: Overcoming blogging anxiety | UWE Gradschool blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s