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 http://yimeizhueresearch.wordpress.com Supervisor: Prof. Rob Procter
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.
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).
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?
Research Methods Qualitative interviews : Participant observation Case study of #PhDchat
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
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
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
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.
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
Also used: Academia.edu, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Mendeley, YouTube, Tumblr, Scoop.it and Pearltree, etc.
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
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
Facebook Group and Page Facilitate an informal support network for researchers Post information about conferences, workshops and work opportunities Seek advices Organise events
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
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)
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
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.
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.
Future Work An internet survey with UK academic researchers to obtain a representative sample More follow-up-interviews and participant observation after the survey
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: http://www.ref.ac.uk/pubs/ [Accessed 13 July 2012]. Nielsen, L. 2008. Developing Mentors from Your Personal Learning Network. The Innovative Educator [Online]. Available from: http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.co.uk/2008/05/developing-mentors-from-your- 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).
Thank you! If you are interested in my study, you can see my blog: http://yimeizhueresearch.wordpress.com to see conference presentation slides ‘Shall we use social media for our research?’ Follow me on Twitter @yimeizhu Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/yimeizhumanchester