Using social media to advance your research

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A presentation and discussion given to the UBC Faculty of Medicine post-graduate career day on October 19, 2011. …

A presentation and discussion given to the UBC Faculty of Medicine post-graduate career day on October 19, 2011.

A rough outline of the talk is included in the notes.

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  • Hi there-- as she mentioned my name is Daniel Hooker, and those letters after my name MLIS are for Master in Library and Information Studies, I ’ m a librarian by training. So I got my start working for the UBC librarian over in the Diamond Centre, Dean Giustini, and became familiar with health research and literature there. I also developed a keen interest in social media because it had started to make an impact in my field, and I wanted to see just how profound of an effect it was having on other fields as well.
  • So I ’ m going to lay out for you a bit about today ’ s roadmap.
  • The first thing I want to do is investigate a little bit about what it ’ s like to work and do research today. I want to give you some of my ideas on what I see going on in social media, and how that is impacting everyone, whether you are participating on social media or not. I will try and demonstrate how important social media is becoming -- and give some context on why you should care.
  • The second thing we need to go over are the tools that are going to help you on your journey as a health scientist and researcher today. More and more tools online, more and more ways to interact with others, to think about research production and dissemination, and more things to keep track of. Here ’ s where we ’ ll discuss some of the innovations going on in research practice right now.
  • Finally I want to take our investigation and our tools, and I want to show you what we ’ re making. Really what we ’ re doing when we participate in social media is we ’ re creating our digital identities, some people say we ’ re leaving digital footprints. We can see that research in health and medicine is changing as a result of online communications technologies. We don ’ t yet know exactly how much of an impact these things are going to have on things like academic publishing, data storage, result dissemination, knowledge translation, evidence-based medicine. What we do know is that more and more parts of our personal and professional lives are being taken online, whether we like it or not. Luckily the people in this room are curious by nature. We work in research and science, we do studies, we do experiments. So my charge to you today will be to start thinking about social media and about creating your digital identity and the importance of that to your future. I argue that by purposefully experimenting in making your professional digital identity, you are helping pioneer what it means to be a health scientist and researcher in the age of social media.
  • So let ’ s start this discussion by looking a bit at what in the world is happening.
  • Everyone knows Google, and I ’ m going to talk more about it ’ s specific impact on one another shortly, but for now suffice it to say that it ’ s huge, and it ’ s getting huger everyday. This search for medicine gives us 193 million results. [CORRECTION: now when I do this, I get 849 million results!] So let ’ s try something more specific. Maybe a medical jargon term.
  • Hypertension. Oh, 14 million. OK. Well... maybe lots of people have high blood pressure. That ’ s fair. Let ’ s try something even more bizarre. Let ’ s try Knowledge Translation.
  • Knowledge Translation. Only brings us down to 9.4 million results. So you start to see my point: even on topics of relatively little importance to the world at large, there is infinitely more information than we could ever even dream of knowing what to do with. But this is Google, this is everything, right? The whole web. If you searched the literature it would be easier. But would it?
  • Even research studies are being published at a ridiculous rate. 11 systematic reviews a day. I thought these were supposed to help us filter literature?
  • The upshot is that what we ’ re dealing with today is an explosion of information. An explosion of data on the web that we have to figure out how to manage.
  • So not only do we have this incredible amount of information just leaking out everywhere, but there ’ s all these people, too. It ’ s getting crowded. Facebook has over 750 million users there now?
  • That ’ s not all. They apparently gained 350 million of them in just a year and a half.
  • Not only that, but those people are active, and they have opinions. What started at Amazon with books, moved to Yelp, for restaurants, now there ’ s something in the States called Angie ’ s List that has businesses. The product review site has expanded into every category imaginable: doctors. lawyers. teachers. services.
  • Not only that, but those people are active, and they have opinions. What started at Amazon with books, moved to Yelp, for restaurants, now there ’ s something in the States called Angie ’ s List that has businesses. The product review site has expanded into every category imaginable: doctors. lawyers. teachers. services.
  • Not only that, but those people are active, and they have opinions. What started at Amazon with books, moved to Yelp, for restaurants, now there ’ s something in the States called Angie ’ s List that has businesses. The product review site has expanded into every category imaginable: doctors. lawyers. teachers. services.
  • Even doctors.
  • Some people turn straight to each other for health advice and tracking their conditions -- peer-to-peer healthcare -- Get your health in order. And they ’ re running trials on this stuff and getting real patient-reported data about rare conditions because there ’ s a hub here for people to come and share their experiences.
  • So all these people are out there now, including all of us in this room. We go online, we chat online, we shop online, we email, we Skype. None of that is in question. But what we are slower to realize and accept is that these things are just as transformative for how we work and do research, too. And how we interact with our colleagues. How we stay in touch with old colleagues from projects. How we collaborate across continents with researchers in other universities. How we find new people to work with. Who here Googles people? I had an experience recently when I told someone that I had just met through work, I was going to help her with some social media stuff, after we had met a couple times, I said to her, “ yeah, I Googled you. ” And I realized at that moment, when I saw just the briefest flash of horror -- no, no it wasn ’ t horror, but it was tinged a bit with surprise, there was an acknowledgement that this act felt very personal -- I realized how little we talk about that part of what we do. Don ’ t you Google people? I know you do, I can see it in your eyes. We all do, and honestly there ’ s nothing to be ashamed of. This is simply how we figure out who people are these days. When you hear of a new colleague, when you ’ re on an interview panel, when you ’ re set to come see someone present, we go to Google first. But the thing is, we don ’ t talk about it, we just do it. It feels funny to say, or to hear someone say, I Googled You. Like it ’ s something we do or should do in private. Who here Googles themselves? I do. Think about how often you Google other people. Now consider that other people Google you, too. Aren ’ t you curious what they ’ ll find?
  • So I Google myself. Because I for one, am curious about what other people find. And the beauty of this is, all those things you see up there, are things that I control. Google profile, personal website, my office, a wiki that I ’ m a part of, Twitter, LinkedIn. All the top results on my name are me. And I know that I am in a minority here, that this is an exception, and people have more common names, and there is still a desire to keep things private -- and part of what we need to shift about accepting our digital identities is that they aren ’ t private [PAUSE] but that ’ s OK. Just because there is public information about you on the internet telling people about yourself doesn ’ t mean you can ’ t still have a private life if you want one. But we also need to start getting comfortable with the idea that this is our first impression. It ’ s not the face to face meeting anymore. And that goes for researchers, lab rats, public speakers and CEOs. Luckily everyone in this room is comfortable, or at least familiar with, uncertainty. We ’ re in research, into experimentation, in to science in general. And that means we can lead our colleagues in health care more generally in modern ways of interaction, of professional identity by taking a chance on social media and starting to figure out how to use them to our advantage, so that when opportunity goes out Googling, you know what it ’ s going to find.
  • So here we are at the tools.
  • There are three types of tools I want to go through today, that I ’ ve sorted into three sort of categories that I think will be relevant to you, and they break down like this. Tools to help your research: this is the biggest category and it ’ s one that has a lot of the bigger picture stuff in it. Blogging, publishing, peer review, open access. There are a a lot of ideas there that I want to just throw out there, and let you chew on until we get to have time for questions afterward. Tools to help build community: so building off of the changing nature of the research process, I think we can start to agree that effective research today is getting much more collaborative than it may have been in the past. And there is more and more opportunity to build partnerships and collaborations over massive distances with some of the tools. I ’ m only going to mention a few things here, but I ’ ve got a lot stored up in my head, so if I don ’ t go over enough here, ask me afterward. Finally, tools to help market yourself. I know this is a career day, and that sometimes researchers and post-docs tend not to place much, if any, personal emphasis on “ marketing ” themselves, so maybe that ’ s a poor term. But I chose it on purpose because remember those 750 million people on Facebook? Well, lots of them need jobs, too, and with fairly minimal effort these days you can do some things to really help you stand out from the crowd, even if it ’ s a small crowd who only cares
  • Start a blog. Easy for me to say, right? Well no one said it wouldn ’ t take time and effort to blog. But there is simply no better way to share what you are thinking and doing in your work than blogging. Especially in science and health when the information coming from the mainstream media is often focused on hype and not on nuance, and when journal articles are flawed or mis-represent the literature on which they draw, blogging has become one of the quintessential checks on editorial power for our age. Rosie Redfield, a microbiologist here, put UBC on the map when she took NASA and the journal Science to task for publishing a methodologically questionable study about lifeforms that allegedly use Arsenic as the basis for life, and there are countless other examples where bloggers are transforming the publishing landscape, as well as the health and medical research discourse. One of the things that is so important for this process of blogging and conducting research is the opportunity for reflection. When we get neck-deep in our data, it gets so hard to see what we ’ re actually accomplishing, or what conclusions we can actually draw, until we take a break and think things over. And it helps to talk it over with colleagues. And it helps to retrace our steps. By writing down what we ’ re doing . Blogging doesn ’ t have to be profound, but it can be a notebook. A place to record our thoughts, share them, maybe receive feedback, and develop ideas that subsequently become publishable.
  • So the other tool that I want to mention here that is particularly relevant for reserachers is Mendeley. Mendeley is a really wonderful tool that is designed to do several things. First and foremost it is a reference manager. So for those of you who have used RefWorks in the past, or EndNote maybe, this is sort of like that -- except way better. The interface is designed to look like iTunes, you can edit your citations on the fly and group them into folders easily and intitively. You can import citations from the web using a simple one-button bookmark, or you can add them manually with a PubMed ID or DOI number. Pretty slick. Inside Mendeley, you can view and annotate PDFs, so you attach them to the citations in the program, and you can open them up inside the program too, no Adobe Reader required. The other thing that makes Mendeley worth talking about in a talk like this one is that they are not stopping with just trying to help you keep track of your citations and annotate your work. What they really want is to build a massive, freely available database of citations and of the researchers who write and collect them, so that you can all find each other and each other ’ s work.
  • Through the course of your research, you create citations for papers that are then added to the Mendeley Database. The convenience of this tool is that it allows you to conduct research right inside the system itself, through the Mendeley database. And it will display the relevant information here, and it will go out and grab freely available PDFs of papers from places like PubMed Central. Or, if there are pre-prints available in another database somewhere, often someone will have put that here as well, so you don ’ t have to go hunting. The more of these records are created, the less and less you have to go elsewhere to get your work done. And by going out and doing rigorous research in PubMed and Ovid and EBSCO and places like that, you can put those citations into this database and now you ’ re contributing to something larger than yourself. Can you imagine what it would be like to try and do research if we weren ’ t at UBC? Some of you probably can -- maybe there are people here who don ’ t have that luxury. For you folks, this is going to start looking even more appealing.
  • So aside from the citation-based piece, it works a little like Facebook. You list your interests, you can join groups and make contacts. But the glue that holds it all together is that your CV is built into it through your citations. And It tracks your data, and your readership if that ’ s what you ’ re into. And this is a public profile remember. So when you ’ re adding to it -- you ’ re adding to that digital footprint, you ’ re crafting your digital identity. You ’ re stepping down on this piece of the Web and saying these are my research interests, and this is what I ’ ve published, and these are the contacts that I have in my field. How better to communicate in an innovative way, that you are a leader in your field?
  • One of the tools that is right now probably the most prominent when we talk about social media is Twitter. Twitter has been around for several years now, and I think somewhat unfairly still has an impression associated with it that it is banal, it is But one of the things that I tell people immediately when we start talking about Twitter is that you choose what you see on Twitter. So it ’ s no one ’ s fault but your own if you are following a bunch of people who all they ever talk about is how much they hate their job or whatever it is. What this means in practice is that you have to be somewhat judicious, you have to actually spend time listening to what people are sharing and talking about, and then choose wisely. There will always be an element of casualness about Twitter -- it ’ s not called social media for no reason, it is social -- but neither is it irrelevant for us.
  • This is some research from some information scientists at UNC and they were looking at how scholars, faculty members, academic staff are using Twitter. And one of the most interesting things to me here is that these data represent the blending of the personal and professional spheres on Twitter. 30% of faculty tweets are “ scholarly ” -- so 1 in 3 or 4 is work related. And this is part of the process -- accepting how we blend our personas of personal and professional in social media spaces.
  • One of the best and most innovative things about Twitter is that it has really evolved from a system that was designed as a status tool -- “ this is how I am ” “ this is where I am ” -- but the users took it places that were originally unexpected and now seem quite natural. Links are obviously the biggest piece of currency that people share, they send out their blog posts, they share other blog posts, they link to TED talks and other interesting finds on the web, news, whatever, you name it and it is being shared on Twitter right now. [Explain researchblogging here] Beyond just sending out links, one of the first common scholarly practice that started on Twitter was the sharing of thoughts and ideas from conference sessions over Twitter. This is immensely helpful for people who are not able to go to the conference or the event but want to “ hear what is going on ” . These conference-related tweets are kept together by means of something called a #hashtag
  • A hashtag is simply a word or phrase pre-pended by the pound sign, and these things can be searched, such that all the tweets tagged as a particular event like this one can be found together. So this started with events were people were using them to talk about what they we ’ re seeing and hearing. But then hashtags became a little broader:
  • After people realized the utility of keeping things together by tagging, hashtags moved beyond events and into basic keywords. The hashtag might be a concept, #research. It might be a condition, #hiv. It might be a buzzword, #mHealth. And after people started using these things for a while, it became clear that they could do more than just spit out links. They could talk to each other -- they could share knowledge by talking to one another. So communities of practice begin to form, as sort of a natural progression of this system.
  • So now we ’ re moving from conferences, to concepts, to communities. People who tend to use certain hashtags regularly began realizing they had interests in common. And that these commonalities could be used to their advantage. They could work together. This particular hashtag looks like garbage but it actually stands for something fairly straightforward:
  • Health Care and Social Media
  • In Canada
  • And the reason this got started was that there was a group of people that had started out in the States who were sharing best practices and knowledge about research on using social media for health. They decided they would hold a weekly chat, where they set a time, and everyone would come and talk about a pre-determined topic. How do you find the time to use social media? What have you read recently? What are the best YouTube videos for patients, that sort of thing. When they reached a critical mass, countries, including Canada began to have their own chats to discuss regional issues. Meaningful Use, for example, was not something of immediate relevance for Canadian or European participants in the original community. What was really transformative about this community though was that one night last fall, one of the regular leaders of this group organized a pan-Canadian meeting of the #hcsmca groups. So at or around 7pm local time, people in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Kelowna, Vancouver, Victoria -- all met with the people in their area. And I imagine this feeling of galvanizing the community through a face to face meeting must be a little like what it ’ s like to have a great experience in online dating. You chat with someone, realize you have some things in common, get to know them -- and when you meet, you have an instant connection and it deepens your bond. So to bring it back to real life -- this #hcsmca community was relevant for me. And you may find that it is relevant to you, if your research interests lie in this area. But even if they don ’ t, there are people out there who have interests like yours, and are waiting to have that “ connected ” moment with you.
  • Linked In is probably one of the most notable social media that is specifically targeted towards making an online resume. I ’ m not sure if this has appeal for many of you in the room, but again, I ’ m presenting you with options of how to grow that footprint, to make your fabulous work shine as much as possible. There ’ s a good academic presence on LinkedIn, and you may be surprised at the connections you can make if you spend a little bit of time there. And again, what ’ s important here is that you are collecting these pieces of your digital identity that we are going to sew together into a nice little package, and on the next slide I ’ m going to show you a couple sites that will do that for you.
  • One of the last tools I ’ ll show you here is something called Flavors. What Flavors does is it takes all these pieces of your identity that I ’ ve gone through with you today and it puts them all together in one spot -- a personal homepage. Only you don ’ t have to install anything, there ’ s no coding, no HTML, no nothing. You feed it the links for your blog, you input your CV information, you can have other links, other profiles Twitter LinkedIN etc. and it makes it all into a really nice looking package for you. The look and feel of it is completely customizable, so you can have a huge image background as is shown here and a lot of people tend to do, but you can style it anyway that you want. And it ’ s free. which is is pretty incredible.
  • This is another example of a really simple site built with Flavors, that is showing what looks to me like a search for the authors name on PubMed. So you can have it display anything coming in through an RSS feed, which PubMed can make for you using any search criteria, so you can pull that right into your site here, alongside any other information that you want to include.
  • So that ’ s pretty much it for the tools. What have we accomplished? Essentially, what I ’ ve wanted to do here is give you a taste of some of the information that you need to get started thinking about how the social web is impacting your work, whether you know it or not. And I also wanted to show you just a taste of the tools that you can use to take your research online, and start the experimentation process around what to share, who to share it with, and whether or not you get anything from it. I remember like it was yesterday starting a blog and knowing that no one was reading it. I just knew it. But I wrote a post here and there -- and this really wasn ’ t that long ago -- and one day someone in the library field who was a big blogger shared something I wrote. It got viewed like a couple hundred times that day which was huge for me! The post I had written was about what we called library school -- so my grad program -- and how I felt we should be learning more about social tools like the ones I ’ ve talked to you about today. And when I struck that nerve without knowing it, the result was that I was able to see the power of tapping into that network of people that are out there just looking for good information about their field. And traditionally those messages come from big names, those people writing the books and those lead authors. Those people still carry authority, I know that, but the beauty of social media and everyone sharing all the great work that we ’ re involved with, well, big ideas can come from anyone, even someone who isn ’ t even thinking about spreading their message outside their own program.

Transcript

  • 1. eCommunications to advance your research
    • Daniel Hooker MLIS eHealth Strategy Office, Faculty of Medicine
  • 2. today’ s map
  • 3. today’ s map
  • 4. today’ s map
  • 5. today’ s map
  • 6. What is going these days?
  • 7.  
  • 8.  
  • 9.  
  • 10.  
  • 11. more information, more data than we could have imagined
  • 12.  
  • 13.  
  • 14.  
  • 15.  
  • 16.  
  • 17.  
  • 18.  
  • 19. like it or not, it’ s becoming normal
  • 20.  
  • 21.  
  • 22. Tools to help your research Tools to help build community Tools to help market yourself
  • 23. Tools to help your research Tools to help build community Tools to help market yourself
  • 24. Start a blog
  • 25.  
  • 26.  
  • 27.  
  • 28. Slideshare Scribd Open Access: UBC cIRcle
  • 29. Tools to help your research Tools to help build community Tools to help market yourself
  • 30.  
  • 31.  
  • 32.  
  • 33. #FOMcareerday
  • 34. #research
  • 35. #hcsmca
  • 36. #hcsm ca
  • 37. # hcsm ca
  • 38. #hcsmca
  • 39. ResearchGate Academia.edu
  • 40. Tools to help your research Tools to help build community Tools to help market yourself
  • 41.  
  • 42.  
  • 43.  
  • 44. What have we done?
  • 45. Thank you! [email_address] @ danhooker