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.