Using twitter for your PHD or Research

Twitter as a tool has become somewhat of a cultural icon. Over the years since its inception it has morphed into a powerful tool that has caused enormous change from the Arab spring to viral pictures of cats. It has shown itself to be a useful tool across various different industries and disciplines and has caused a huge amount of disruption in areas such as print media. The same industries such as print media now also use twitter to keep it touch with members of the public for up to date information, pictures and videos and news that are occurring in real time.

In my view there is also great scope to use twitter for research, however one of the biggest issues many researchers and academics have about this medium is how can you possibly say anything of relevance within a 140 Characters.  This is quite a challenge for many academics!!

Over the years as twitter has grown multiple communities have sprung up that encourage and develop a collegial feeling within the online environment. This blog post would like to discuss some of these key areas and trends from within Twitter.

Hashtags

By far one of the most important features of Twitter, I like to think of it as a filing cabinet! However the proper definition mentions that a Hashtag is an excellent tool in bringing together messages on a specific chat. So you can Imagine there are hundreds and thousands of hashtags all with their own specific topics. So which ones are appropriate for research?

#phdchat

By far one of the most popular hashtags on twitter for research orientated chats. The channel is run by @NSRiazat and is a live PHD session which runs every wednesday night at 8:30pm GMT. It is very popular within the community and often you will have hundreds of participants.

#academia

More of an academic hashtag but nevertheless a great channel for academics to discuss their working lives, papers, etc. Not as well structured as #phdchat but still provides a useful space within the online environment to discuss key academic issues.

#PhdForum

Very much about the whole process of PHDs, from the start of the journey to its epic conclusion.

#Highered

A very loose hashtag very much focused on the environment of higher education. Its great if you want to pursue a career in academia and allows you to get a flavour of the environment. It was very busy for example during the tuition fees increase!

#edresearch

This hashtag is one of the few that is subject specific. It is a hashtag for educational researchers, helped me to get to grips with epistemological and ontological discussions!

Top Follows

If you really want to get the most out of twitter you need to follow people. In my view the more diverse the better, your timeline will be populated with views, news and opinions from all over the world. It helps to have a starting list of who to follow within the online environment.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but during my time on twitter the following accounts have been immense in helping me to get to grips with some of the more intricate elements on my PHD and my research:

And thats it. I hope this blog post helps you to get to grips with the basics of twitter and how you can use it for your research. As usual any comments please let me know.

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