I haven’t written a post for a while so I thought I should report on an event I attended recently in Liverpool, hosted by the Vitae North West hub on the 12th January 2012. It was a day workshop called ’21st Century Researcher Profiles: Using social media to benefit your research’ led by Dr Emma Gillaspy, Cristina Costa and Alys Kay, who were all very well informed and led interesting discussions in their areas of expertise. It was a really great event and was definitely worthwhile and is something I have been increasingly thinking about using much more. As well as this blog and my editing role on PhD2Published, I have been trying to develop my Twitter presence, as well as think through how my research can be more beneficial to wider audiences. I have helped to run a local event in Lancaster called the New Ideas Festival (which I have discussed in my blog) as one way of doing this, but social media is becoming increasingly important.
As well as meeting lots of new people, from various disciplines at universities in the North West, UK I enjoyed sharing ideas and I learnt a lot about all of the different types of technologies people are now using in their academic work. To some extent I was scared by the great variety and choices of software that are available but also intrigued at what each of them do. The key things I took away from the day were:
Digital Identity – It is really important to think about how my online identity as a researcher is presented. I use Twitter professionally and try not to mix this identity with my personal, home identity (to avoid that I use Facebook personally and Twitter professionally). Of course there are always cross over’s in this. I continue to remain courteous and inquisitive on Twitter, as is my personality anyway, but I ensure the content is predominantly about work (unless people post about cats. In which case I can’t resist sharing my cat stories!).
Collaborative Working – Here I learnt about the wealth of programs researchers are using and beginning to use to work collaboratively, either in the same university or across them. I currently use Dropbox but was amazed by the range of programs available. I liked the idea of SlideShare, for sharing presentations and I am going to try out GoogleDocs as well (I can’t add a link to this one but you need a Googlemail account to use this). Someone quite rightly asked “Which one do you choose?!”. I don’t think we came to a conclusion!
One of the questions discussed on the day was also “Why should researchers use social networking tools?”. For me it is because it is a great way for academics and researchers to be accountable for the work they do, as well as to disseminate their findings to a broader audience. Interestingly, I was also asked a question about social media in a research position interview, so it is clearly something academics should consider engaging with more to make themselves more employable.
My random thought for the day was that it felt very strange Tweeting people who were in the same room as me and having both physical and Internet conversations at the same time!!
Thanks to Emma, Cristina, Alys and those that attended for an interesting and informative day 🙂