Tag: social media

Literature tips: How far do academics live in social bubbles?

Filipa M. Ribeiro  (University of Porto)

Filipa M. Ribeiro
(University of Porto)

In this edition of the literature tips, Filipa M. Ribeiro, PhD researcher and science writer from University of Porto writes about a new paper on academic social networks. 

By now, it is not a surprise that we live in social bubbles, especially when it comes to social media. It is not uncommon that we discuss with our colleagues the fact that, in practice, we live in social bubbles, in the sense that we relate in an homophilous way unless organizations and institutions give us no choice to do otherwise.

If no other, this is an excellent reason to read the paper published in mid February, by Dimitar Nikolov and colleagues: Measuring Online Social Bubbles, which is a nice follow-up of a doctoral thesis that was reviewed in an earlier post on the Hedda blog.

The paper by Nikolov and collegaues points to the fact that the current web-based systems (eg.: recommendation systems and search engines) based on previously declared social relations amplify the effect of a social bubble, which has previously been argued by Figueiredo (2014). The authors studied data from an American University online traffic, looking at applications of social media, email and search engines. The conclusion is that the level of diversity of information, both at individual and collective levels, is low in the first two and higher in the third (search engine for words or texts). The diversity of information is measured by the number of necessary clicks to connect two content. 




Guest blogger: How PhD students use social media to help their research development

Yimei Zhu  (University of Manchaster)

Yimei Zhu
(University of Manchaster)

In this guest entry, Yimei Zhu discusses the scholarly use of social media by PhD researchers through a mix-methods study in the UK. Yimei Zhu is a 3rd year Sociology PhD student in University of Manchester. Her research looks at the new forms of scholarly communication and whether researchers support these new practices.  Her research interests include scholarly use of social media, open access to publication and data, social capital, trust and online communities. 

This entry draws on the article: Zhu and Procter (2012) ‘Use of blogs, Twitter and Facebook by PhD Students for Scholarly Communication: A UK study, presented at China New Media Communication Association Annual Conference, Macao International Conference at 6 -8 Dec 2012.

Some seniors researchers believe that using social media is a waste of time and only those young PhD students who were born into the digital world as the ‘Facebook generation’ have the time to play around with new media tools. However, PhD students and early career researchers who have not secured professional status and reputation should really be focusing on doing research and getting published in peer-reviewed journals. Would the playground of social media waste their previous time doing ‘real’ research? Can research students use the new media tools to benefit their work and future career?

To explore these issues, we interviewed seven PhD students based in two UK universities and conducted a case study analysing contents from two live chat events on Twitter with the themed hashtag of #phdchat, in which participants discussed various issues around blogging about research. We found that blogs, Twitter and Facebook are among the most popular social media tools being used by researchers.




Milestone! 500 Facebook Likes

Hedda Has 500 "Likes"!This week, Hedda has passed another important milestone!

We have just passed 500 followers on the Hedda Facebook page!   We would like to welcome Sam Fongwa who was our 500th Hedda friend on Facebook!

Thank you, Hedda blog readers for helping us reach this new milestone.  We will continue to do our best in providing you with the latest news and updates in the field of higher education, as well as podcasts and interviews from international researchers and experts in higher education.

Remember, we are always happy to hear from you – either in the form of comments or input to the blog, all ideas and suggestions welcome!




Tweeting at conferences – opening up the debate or dumbing down research?

Hedda associate Mari Elken examines the recent “Twittergate” debate about live tweeting from conferences and appeals for less evangelism and more common sense and courtesy in deciding what is appropriate.

A few days ago, a debate blossomed up about live tweeting from conferences in Twitter following the tag #twittergate, a number of quite strong opinions were voiced from both sides. From seeing Twitter as a natural means of sharing information, to seeing it as a threat to the knowledge sharing taking place in conferences.

The debate was also picked up by Inside Higher ed, who further had gotten comments from academics both supporting tweeting and further those who see it either as unnecessary, or further, having a self-promotional agenda.  While some argue it is a generational difference, others see it as a principal difference on how academic work is perceived and what is considered as public knowledge.

Further, a number of bloggers and active Twitter using scholars have come to the defence of tweeting, arguing for a set of good practices, one of them seeing live tweeting asan act of love, an incredible source of intellectual, technical and professional satisfaction and an incredibly gratifying, productive way of contributing to my academic community“. Now as this does sound quite altruistic and glorifying, it is perhaps not surprising that this advocacy comes from a scholar who focuses on digital media and online journalism. However, the main essence of the point, that Twitter and social media can function as a means to share knowledge shouldn’t be overlooked. The question is how this sharing should be done?  




Thematic week: Challenging the conference-going norms of the academic elite: the potential of blogs

dr. Jana Bouwma-Gearhart (University of Kentucky)

In this post, dr. Jana Bouwma-Gearhart shares her views on the potential of blogs in contributing to sharing research knowledge – a domain usually populated by conferences. Dr. Jana Bouwma-Gearhart  is a professor at the School of Education at University of Kentucky (USA). She obtained her PhD from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her research interests also include issues related to effects of teaching professional development programs on both staff and students and faculty motivation. She is the chair of the science education program faculty, and is involved in teaching teacher education programmes.  and in her recent work she has examined the role of blogs in research communication

Recently, I attended the annual conference of the American Education Research Association (AERA), arguably the preeminent education research conference in the US and, perhaps, to many of our international colleagues as well.  It was in Vancouver, Canada, one of the loveliest large cities in North America.  It is also the most expensive.  But I was committed to doing it all relatively on the cheap; I shared a bed in a rented apartment, I cooked many of my own meals, I invited colleagues over for drinks procured from the corner shop.  Thus, the experience “only” cost about 2,200 US dollars. But I didn’t pay personally for the conference experience; I rarely do.

I was born into academia with a silver spoon in my mouth.  My work as a graduate student, then Assistant Researcher, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was supported by numerous grants.  My continued research studying higher education in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) qualifies me for some really big ones, most notably from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the US.  I have the pleasure of having support from three NSF grants and these, along with a rather generous university travel stipend (in comparison to many other universities in the US and surely in the world) for research and travel means that I have never really wanted for adequate support as an academic.