Social media: A guide for researchers (Andrew Coverdale case study)

Added by Catherine Gray on 07 February 2011 17:22

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Andrew Coverdale

Currently I am a PhD student at Nottingham University researching how postgraduate and doctoral students are using social media in their studies. I have a background in heavy engineering but then went to Art College before getting into the Web and Education.

I usually prefer to discover information about my work and research using social media and more traditional ways like discussing with a colleague as I believe they complement each other. But it all depends on the type of information I need and when I want it.

I extensively use blogging, microblogging, social bookmarking, social citation, writing tools, social and professional tools like Facebook, even though I don’t like using it. I have tried aggregators and dashboards like Netvibes but I didn’t really see the point of them.

The reason that made me want to use social media was that I was interested in the web generally, and the participative/collaborative elements of education. So I was instinctively drawn to social media. Though, I wouldn’t use it as much if I wasn’t studying for my PhD.

The factors that discouraged me from using social media are time factors usually. There are too many tools to keep with and they are not always useful.

I believe that the use of social media has actually made me a better researcher because I can source information, establish links with people in my field, disseminate my work etc.

If I couldn’t use social media anymore…then I’d have more time! However, I’d lose out on a lot of key contacts more than anything – information on what they are doing, latest developments in the field. I would probably spend more time trying to establish social learning opportunities in my School and University, and I would probably chase more opportunities for conferencing etc.

The last time social media helped me solve a problem was when I used a wiki with a couple of my colleagues to put together a funding proposal. Even though we met face-to-face it was useful for collaborative editing texts, sharing and discussing ideas in general.

Andrew Coverdale’s blog: PhD Blog (dot) Net (http://phdblog.net)

The main project page for Social media: A guide for researchers is here.


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