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Zhu2012 use of blogs twitter and facebook by ph d students


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  • 1. 2012 China New Media Communication Association Annual Conference Macao International Conference 6-8 December 2012 Use of blogs, Twitter and Facebook by PhD Students for Scholarly Communication: a UK study  Yimei Zhu Sociology PhD Student  University of Manchester  Twitter: @yimeizhu   Supervisor: Prof. Rob Procter
  • 2. Introduction of my PhD project My PhD thesis: Are the new forms of scholarly communication the pathway to open science? Open access to publication Open access to research data Using social media for scholarly communication This PhD project is funded by Manchester eResearch Centre under the supervision of Professor Rob Procter. This paper I’m presenting today is focused on using social media for scholarly communication based on a pilot study I’ve conducted with PhD students.
  • 3. Scholarly communication Scholarly communication, has been used as a broad term to cover all the activities and norms of academic research related to producing, exchanging and disseminating knowledge (Rieger 2010; Hahn et al 2011). Social media tools has enabled a real-time communication and dissemination of scholarly contents (Procter et al 2010).
  • 4. What’s there for PhD students? Some Questions to consider: For PhD students and early career researchers, it’s important to get your work done and publish in a reputable journal, as they have not secured professional status. Would the use of social media waste their time of doing ‘real’ research? The Research Excellence Framework (REF), which are guidelines released by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), have not yet given credit to contents on the social media. Can the adoption of new media tools benefit PhD students’ work and future career? What strategies can be employed to maximise the impact of using social media?
  • 5. Research Methods Qualitative interviews : Participant observation Case study of #PhDchat
  • 6. Pilot interviews (June-Sep 2012) Interviews: By face-to-face, Skype and Emails 7 PhD students from various disciplines 3 face-to-face interviews 1 Skype interviews 3 email interviews
  • 7. Interviewees Users: Male, PhD student in Education Male, PhD student in Life Science Female, PhD student in Education Female, PhD student in Biology Female, PhD student in Sociology Non-users: Male, PhD student in Politics Female, PhD student in Material Engineering
  • 8. Participant observation Talked to various researchers about their attitudes towards and experience of using social media in various social occasions Created my own twitter account, Facebook page and academic blog, as well as playing around with a number of social media tools I started using Twitter, Facebook page and blog for research related purpose
  • 9. Case studies of #phdchat #phdchat was first set up in 2010 by a UK based PhD student and became a regular chat event on Twitter every Wednesday 7.30-8.30pm at British Standard Time I joined in the conversation of Twitter #phdchat a few times and often used the hashtag in my tweets. I analysed archive data of Tweets that includes #PhDchat from a topic called Blogging about your Research’ of 4 April and 20 June 2012.
  • 10. Results and Discussion According to the participants in this study, current most commonly used social media tools to promote research: Blogs, Twitter, Facebook groups and pages
  • 11.  Also used:, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Mendeley, YouTube, Tumblr, and Pearltree, etc.
  • 12. Blogs Sites: WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr or blogs hosted by their institutions Content and Function of research blog: Promote published papers or abstracts for conferences Used as a notebook to record thoughts & progress Practise writing and reflecting Disseminate and gather information Networking & Getting feedback
  • 13. Twitter Disseminate information to a wide audience ‘I use Twitter to disseminate information, present things from other network. Twitter is like a platform, connected to many other social media and websites. Twitter presents short summary.’ (Male, PhD student in Life Science) Find information quickly Used at conferences or before attending conferences
  • 14. Facebook Group and Page Facilitate an informal support network for researchers Post information about conferences, workshops and work opportunities Seek advices Organise events
  • 15. Difficulties and Potential problems Fear of not being able to secure academic rewards, thus being very protective of their data Worry of ideas being pinched or plagiarism Content on social media being misused for inappropriate purposes Lack of knowledge of how to start and maintain social media presence Revealing too much personal information
  • 16. Strategies used by participants Link different social media sites for cross-platform promotion. ‘‘Linking each site to one another so that they’re updated automatically… I set up WordPress link to my Twitter which is linked to my Facebook page…So I cover both bases separately.” (Female, PhD student in Education)
  • 17. Create a personal learning network (PLN): ‘A personal learning network (pln), can be defined as a collection of people and resources that guide your learning, point you to learning opportunities, answer your questions, and give you the benefit of their own knowledge and experience.’ (Nielsen 2008) Getting support from peers all across the globe
  • 18. Build a professional online profile ‘Privacy issue: Have different identities on Twitter and Facebook Having a Facebook page that fans can ‘like’ is a strategy of having a Facebook presence but using it for a professional purpose. Interviewees all agree that they would not leak research findings on social media before going through traditional publication channel first.
  • 19. Conclusion New media tools, such as academic blogs, Twitter and Facebook, can be very helpful for PhD students and early career researchers to raise their profiles to an international audience. There are difficulties and potential problems such as the lack of standards and incentives. Respondents from this study use various strategies to maximise the impact of their scholarly communication practice.
  • 20. Future Work An internet survey with UK academic researchers to obtain a representative sample More follow-up-interviews and participant observation after the survey
  • 21. Reference Hahn, T., Burright, M. & Duggan, H. (2011). Has the revolution in scholarly communication lived up to its promise? American Society for Information Science and Technology, 37(5), 5. HEFCE. (2012). Publication [Online]. Available: [Accessed 13 July 2012]. Nielsen, L. 2008. Developing Mentors from Your Personal Learning Network. The Innovative Educator [Online]. Available from: personal.html [Accessed 5 Sep 2012]. Procter, R., Williams, R., Stewart, J., Poschen, M., Snee, H., Voss, A. & Asgari-Targhi, M. (2010). Adoption and use of Web 2.0 in scholarly communications. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 368(1926). Rieger, O. Y. (2010). Framing digital humanities: The role of new media in humanities scholarship. First Monday, 15(10).
  • 22. Thank you! If you are interested in my study, you can see my blog: to see conference presentation slides ‘Shall we use social media for our research?’ Follow me on Twitter @yimeizhu Facebook Page: