Social Media and Your Research

As the University of Edinburgh IT Futures Group Annual Conference approaches (title of the conference is ‘Social media in academia: A tweet too far?’ Tuesday 13th Dec) the title got me thinking about social media and your research. So is Social Media really that useful in academia? Here are a few suggestions of things that you can do with it:

  1. Social bookmarking – with the rise of research pooling and distance learning the use of social bookmarking can be a useful way of sharing web links and resources. Services such as Delicious and Diigo allow you to share your bookmarked pages.
  2. Microblog – maximise your impact and resources with twitter. No only is twitter useful for getting your own research profile out there but you can also follow other useful twitter accounts, e.g. research councils, the Vitae Hub @vitaesnihib and of course @iad4phd
  3. Blog about your subject. Blogs can be really helpful in organising and sharing your ideas, communicating your research to non-specialists and using comments from others to generate new content.
  4. Networking – Get your research profile online using Linked in or
  5. Presentations – Share presentations online using prezi, slideshare or dropbox

Whichever of these you use and whatever you use it for, remember to keep your online personal brand consistent and genuine.

Fiona (Doctoral Training Manager, IAD)

Procrastination and getting yourself un-stuck

The feeling of not wanting to do what you’re supposed to be doing can be an overwhelming thing and I can’t help but be struck by the irony of writing this post to help myself move past my current bout of procrastination.

But do not fear, there are always things that you can do. One that I recently discovered was the pomodoro technique. What you do is set a timer for 25 minutes and do focused work while the timer counts down. At the end of the 25 minutes you take a 5 minute break. Then after 4 segments take a 15 minute break. I used it while studying at the weekend and powered throug 2 hours with no problem at all.

Something else I have come across recently but I’m a teeny bit afraid to try is Write or Die which gives you consequences when you stop writing. This one I think would be particularly useful for bashing out ideas in a first draft. You download an app, set a word or time goal and the start typing. If you stop typing for a certain length of time the app will enforce the consequence, for example, start to delete your work  line by line…eeek!

When I was an undergraduate I attended a procrastination workshop and the most important message that I took away from that is that if you can identify what it is about a task that causes you to procrastinate then the easier it is to move past. For me its reading. I would much rather be doing pretty much anything but reading so over the past few years I have developed some small techniques to help me to get through that stage and onto the bits that I like. So I take notes while I’m reading – that tricks me into thinking that I’m writing rather than reading. And I read in small chunks of time so that I know it will be over soon.

And as this post demonstrates, you can always overcome procrastination by doing something related to your work that you enjoy and which will give you another way of thinking about things, be that writing a blog post, looking for relevant material on twitter, reading something in your field or whatever.