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No social media please we are researchers - Shazia Arif & Konstantina Martzoukou


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Presented at LILAC 2016

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No social media please we are researchers - Shazia Arif & Konstantina Martzoukou

  1. 1. We’re Researchers! Shazia Arif Subject Liaison Librarian Brunel University London Dr Konstantina Martzoukou Course Leader Department of Information Management Robert Gordon University
  2. 2. Background • Libraries andWeb 2.0 – shifting power, provider to user • Changing information search and use habits – easy access / instant solvability / immediate use • Librarians reinventing their roles and bringing their services to the user communities they serve.
  3. 3. Digital literacy • “those capabilities that mean an individual is fit for living, learning and working in a digital society. Digital literacy is about being able to make use of technologies to participate in and contribute to modern social, cultural, political and economic life” (BCS, 2016 The Chartered Institute for IT). • ‘digital capabilities’: “more a condition to attain than a threshold to cross, are role specific, ever changing and require embedding into the curriculum or role”. (UCISA, 2014?)
  4. 4. Digital literacies (JISC infoNet 2014)
  5. 5. bacon
  6. 6. • Information searching and browsing platforms – sharing and communication of ideas, linking to professional groups of interest and creating online communities of practice • New dimension of finding information on the Internet – regular monitoring, browsing, actively seeking answers to specific information needs, serendipitous information discovery – Morris et al. (2010) Facebook and Twitter users: • status message to ask questions of their social networks • opinion-type answers, useful for subjective questions, results from social network highly trustworthy, delivery of personalized answers, additional context, confirmation of results found via a search engine Social Media
  7. 7. Aims of research study • To investigate the digital literacy competencies of PhD students at Brunel University on the basis of incorporating social networking sites throughout the research cycle. • To propose recommendations for the design of a digital literacy programme, focusing on the use of online social networking sites for PhD students at Brunel university library and to academic libraries in general.
  8. 8. Research questions • What is the social media use of doctoral researchers at Brunel? • Do they use them for specific activities that relate to their research activities? (e.g. sharing research, finding information, collaboration, networking, communication, referencing) • Do they assign value to social media tools for research purposes? • What are the barriers to using social media tools?
  9. 9. Rationale • “We need to understand learners’ personal digital literacies before ploughing into 'supporting' them” (White, 2012) • Lack of specific research on the use of social networking sites for every aspect of the research life-cycle by doctoral students; “most are camouflaged in larger studies of social media” (Nandez and Borrego, 2013). • May require to focus on a higher level of social media skills at doctoral level.
  10. 10. Previous research • “Current institutional engagement with open web andWeb 2.0 technologies does not convince the majority of GenerationY doctoral students of the credibility of using such applications in a research setting, and reinforces their feeling that actively using, for example, social media and online forums in research lacks legitimacy... • …New web-based and other tools and applications may also challenge their traditional and conservative research working practices” (The British Library and HEFCE 2012, p.6)
  11. 11. Vitae RDF TheVitae (2010) researcher development framework (RDF) describes the "knowledge, skills, behaviours and personal attributes of researchers at different stages of their careers".
  12. 12. Academic research cycle
  13. 13. Methodology/Approach • An action research based methodology: – a form of investigation into existing practices – data employed in reflection, decision-making and the development of improved practice (Parsons and Brown 2002). – current behaviours and barriers in the use of social networking tools by doctoral researchers at Brunel University London. (Lewin, 1994)
  14. 14. • Section 1: demographic data (e.g. age, gender, department, year of study) • Section 2: current use of social media for research, teaching, employment and personal use/leisure. • Section 3: social networking sites mapped to activities required for a PhD qualification. • Section 4: barriers to use • Section 5: current methods of keeping up-to-date. Questionnaire
  15. 15. General findings • 80 postgraduates responded to the survey • courses in other disciplines such as business, are already integrating social media training • but the findings revealed that there is a gap in the training of science and engineering postgraduates
  16. 16. Age 18-30 years: 49% 31-40 years: 35% 41-60 years: 16% Nationality UK: 40% EU & International: 60% Age, Gender and Nationality
  17. 17. Department andYear of Study
  18. 18. Use of social media networking sites (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Use of social bookmarking sites (e.g. Mendeley, Zotero, Digg, Delicious)
  19. 19. Use of blogs/microblogs (e.g. Blogger/Wordpress,Twitter) Sharing sites (e.g. Flickr,YouTube, Dropbox, Pinterest)
  20. 20. PhD activities: Organising, collating references / Collaboration
  21. 21. Dissemination & Networking
  22. 22. How helpful are social media in connecting you to people who share your research interests? How helpful are social media tools in saving you time in finding relevant information?
  23. 23. Social media use and development of skills
  24. 24. Value for research activities
  25. 25. What deters you from using these tools for your research? I think they are time consuming to learn and use: 11% I have concerns about privacy issues 24% I find the tools are distracting/time-wasting 18% The lack of support/training at my University 10% I don't think these tools can make a useful contribution to my research activities 15% I lack the technical know- how 3% I don't know how they could enhance my studies/career 14% Other 5% 10. What stops/deters you from using these tools for your research?
  26. 26. Findings: free text comments
  27. 27. PhD video Monica talks about the use of social media tools for her PhD research
  28. 28. Findings: Use of Social Media • the majority of doctoral researchers' have not adopted social networking tools or use them sporadically and in more limited ways – “while all the tools studies have found a place in the research life cycle, very few researchers were using the full social gamut” (Rowland et al 2011 p. 186) • Most researchers prefer using social media for personal/leisure purposes rather than PhD purposes. • However, paradoxically, they find them valuable for connecting with people, finding and sharing information. They also help them save time.
  29. 29. Findings: Use of Social Media • There are differences in the use of the various categories of social media – highest use for PhD purposes is sharing websites (35%) - (e.g. Flickr, YouTube, Dropbox, Pinterest).They are used for organising, collating references / and collaboration – Followed by Use of social bookmarking sites (25%) (e.g. Mendeley, Zotero, Digg, Delicious) that are not used more for any specific PhD activity – social media networking sites (12%) (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, are mostly used for dissemination, networking, promoting research and collaboration
  30. 30. Findings: Barriers to use • PhD students felt that the had the technical skills or know/how when selecting social media tools for PhD activities. However, haven’t fully understood or integrated social networking sites into research activity • However, had concerns: – issue of privacy – difficulty in establishing the added value/contribution of employing social networking sites throughout and systematically in their PhD studies. – Distracting nature of these tools is identified – However, they were interested to learn more about what value these tools can add
  31. 31. Recommendations for academic libraries • Doctoral researchers receive training on research methods but not on the use of social media for research purposes – digital literacy sessions focusing on the value of social networking tools for doctoral study should be offered, addressing the development of different skills • the focus should be on raising awareness and understanding of the tools available to enable doctoral activities, addressing different research stages and key activities • Opportunities for doctoral researchers to see how their peers are using different technologies effectively and discuss their experiences should be encouraged and facilitated.
  32. 32. Conclusions • Within its modest scope this study has explored incorporating social networking tools into research activities. • Social networking tools are beginning to play a significant role on many aspects of the research lifecycle and researchers, librarians and academics should aim to explore the hidden potential of social media tools for research • Social media is becoming a “personal professional platform”
  33. 33. Future research • Academic staff is another group that needs to be investigated: • “Postgraduate researchers are heavily influenced by their supervisors and very aware of the need for authority and authenticity in the research resources they select ... the postgraduate researchers' supervisors play a critical role in their choice and take-up of technology applications" (Carpenter 2010 p.13). • More specific associations between specific demographic characteristics and specific social media tools • Critical appraisal and study of impact of existing social media training sessions
  34. 34. References • Joint Information Systems Committee., Researchers of tomorrow:The research behaviour of generationY doctoral students. [online]Available from: tomorrow.aspx [Accessed 9/2/2016] • Nández, G. and Borrego, Á., 2013. Use of social networks for academic purposes: a case study. Electronic Library,The, 31(6), pp. 781-791 • Research Information Network., Social media: A guide for researchers | research information network [online]Available from: research/social-media-guide-researchers [Accessed 24/2/2016]
  35. 35. References • Smith, C ., 2012 Explaining social media with bacon [online]Available from: [Accessed 5/2/2016] • UCISA 2014 survey of digital capabilities: Embedding and support [online] Available from: [Accessed 5/2/2016] • Vitae (2010)The Researcher Development Framework, Available at Framework.html [Accessed 27/2/2016]
  36. 36. Thank you Shazia Arif Subject Liaison Librarian Mechanical Aerospace, Civil Engineering and Design Research Insitutes Brunel University London Dr Konstantina Martzoukou Course Leader Department of Information Management Robert Gordon University