Tuesday, 11 December 2012

How can a researcher use social media?

I was asked if social media is good for researchers. Well of course! (And what else can I say as a researcher and as a social media holic?)

Source: uef.fi via Johanna on Pinterest
While I was thinking about the issue from my own point of view (I started a LinkedIn group for Finnish social media researchers last year and have got a lot of useful information from that) I found out a web page by University of Eastern Finland. They had lots of good hints on it so I wanted to translate some of the stuff for my own blog too.

Many of the tools in social media are free of charge for universities and specialists

True. But I add a warning: even if they are free now, it does not mean they remain free of charge in the future too. Keep in mind too that the services may disappear any day if they are profitable for the service provider.

With social media tools you can co-operate with people from different organizations without the mess of account bureaucracy

Yes. E.g. in Yammer you can have a secret group for your project people, invited by their emails.

You can reach useful tools that help working that your own employer do not provide

E.g. on my university laptop the only picture editing tool is Paint and I am not allowed to add e.g. GIMP that I am otherwise using - I lack the admin rights to my computer. However with help of Sumo Paint I can do some picture editing in the net without installing the software.

Get visibility for you and your research – build your web identity (expert brand)

The brand goes to two-ways - it is good for the university's reputation that it has researchers valued in social media networks while it is also good for the researchers themselves if their employer is seen as valued organization. So both are needed. The more links the university pages are get from social media the more they are valued by the search engines too.

Collaboration and networking
•Find the researcher community of your own field
•See e.g. services like LinkedIn, LeMill, Mendeley (sharing pdf’s) and ResearchGate.

Source: lemill.net via Johanna on Pinterest

ResearchGate is like LinkedIn but for researchers.
Xing is the professional network in German-speaking area. LeMill is started in Finland for sharing sharing open educational resources but it is maintained in English

In these groups you can ask ideas for good sources, tell about good conferences, get visibility to your publications and your projects. Maybe you get funding, maybe new projects or coworkers. You never know what can happen when you let the social media do its wonders!

Rich communication enabled by the tools (e.g. chats and video chat) gives you more presence in your interactions – all over the world and with help of instant messaging and Skype you can reduce the amount of emails - and phone costs.

I love the way Skype is working for groups of about 10 people. You can ask an opinion from your colleagues and the one who is online answers you. The others can go through the discussion when they are online too and add comments if needed.

In social tools it is easy to co-write, save and share documents, edit and share the pictures and use picture databases

The services I am using are GoogleDocs for co-writing and Dropbox for saving and sharing the documents. I use a lot of Flickr for finding pictures that can be used freely.

The materials and videos from conferences can be shared through social media

SlideShare and YouTube are good services for this. In our recent Mindtrek seminar I was tweeting for SOITA project and made some seminar videos to YouTube. The materials we provided were added to SlideShare and later on also to our Storify story of all SOITA presentations.  I do think that we have reached much more people with help of social media than we otherwise could have reached.

Social bookmark services researchers can not only collect useful links for themselves but share them with a group of people or in public

For links I currently use mostly Twitter and Pinterest. Pinterest is ideal for collection of links, we have e.g. one for CMAD event which our university project is co-organizing with others. I also use the new secret Pinterest board for stuff that is not public yet. I used to use Delicious and Diigo too but think they lack the social effects I get from Twitter and Pinterest.

Now - what would you add?  What possibilities did we forget?

One researcher people have praised me is Alexander Stocker. He even has a Facebook page for his blog where he tells about his research work and the conferences he has attended. After all the praise I just wish my German would be better. Another great example is Alf Rehn from Åbo Akademi in Finland. He must be busy with all of his projects but still he has time to be active on Twitter too.

1 comment:

  1. OK - one point I forgot - you can of course collect data for your research from social media. Too obvious...


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