Digital Researcher for RTSD #druwe Nov 2015

On Tuesday the 17th November, I ran a workshop at UWE on the use of social media in the context of research. This was aimed at PGRs who are engaging in the Research Training and Support Day (RTSD) at the Glenside campus. I’ve run this sort of thing before; a similar workshop that we ran in February 2015 for researchers and a workshop last December for researcher skills developers from across the country.

The presentation was prepared using Prezi, and is linked behind the cover slide below.

digital researcher RTSD

After a brief introduction, I gathered views about what fears folks have about using social media. Broadly they fall into three categories:- Digital Identity, Information overload and Intellectual Property/data management concerns, all of which are explored below.

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

I offered the main reason for using social media tools is to broaden and enhance your network which is beneficial for researchers looking to establish themselves. I also argued that this is a change in the contemporary research environment compared to just a few years ago – there is more competition and so it is in the individual’s interest to augment their profiles.

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. I talked very briefly about a couple of examples:- Tweetdeck is useful for managing multiple streams of information.

Using social media tools in research

Using digital tools in academia should also be considered against the backdrop of the era of increasingly open research – being able to promote the research you are working on as well as the associated outputs is extremely important to building researcher reputations.

As ever, PHD comics have a good overview of this changing environment.

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!)

Companion website to the book Studying and Researching with Social Media – Megan Poore

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”


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