Tag: Twitter

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.

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: Communicating broadly – which social media channels?

Jarle V. Traavik (University of Oslo)

This entry is written by Jarle V. Traavik, who works as the head of finance at the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Oslo and is a self proclaimed ‘social media guy’, managing social media at the faculty. Jarle is a UK Chartered Accountant and has over 20 years of experience in business and management with an interest on communication strategies. He has worked closely on a number of issues related to strategic planning at the faculty, in addition to participating to the university wide initiative “Task force on Social Media”. In this post, he reflects on portfolio challenges related to building up presence on social media. 

Social media is already an integral part of education. Not only is it a source of information in its own right, but it is also a reference mechanism, and a tool for facilitating learning. The “twitterverse” knows the news before it reaches mainstream media, many use social networks to seek advice or store links, and lecturers use these tools to query or advise students.

As a playground of choice for many prospective and existing students, social media is an ideal tool for communicating issues of interest in higher education. Journalists are also known to make use of Twitter for example, making it a potentially good channel to forward research findings to the wider community. Additionally, some staff also use social media actively for communicating with colleagues, and hint at social media as an alternative to e-mail or internal newsletters.

So the tools and the interest are there. We also know however, that resources at most education institutions are stretched. In many cases therefore schools or universities will need to maneuver for maximum output from minimum input.

Thematic week: Social media in higher education – Where do we go now?

Mal Chia – University of Adelaide

This entry is written by Mal Chia, who works as a digital media strategist for University of Adelaide in Australia. He has more than 10 years of experience in working on various topics related to digital strategies. In this post, he points to some new challenges and opportunities related to social media. 

Social media is everywhere. Particularly in higher education, every institutions home page now proudly boasts a complement of follow buttons from the ubiquitous Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to the fast growing Pinterest, Vimeo and Google+. Matter of fact, some publications estimate as high as 98% of institutions are active on at least one social media platform.

So how are we going?

While it’s hard to make a call on how effectively we as a sector are using social media, it’s a safe bet to assume that most institutions are struggling to understand exactly where it fits into the existing communications mix and what they should be posting which is ironic given the sheer volume of content we generate. The problem is that social media is often treated like another channel, lumped in with television, radio, print and (to a lesser extent) email without much consideration to the seismic change it has had on society, culture and the way we interact with each other.

Social media isn’t just another channel to broadcast messages. It is more than a specific platform but a monumental change in human behaviour.