Social media: A guide for researchers (Anna Croft case study)

Added by Catherine Gray on 07 February 2011 17:48

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Anna Croft

Currently I am a lecturer of Organic Chemistry at Bangor University. I did my undergraduate in Adelaide and then moved to Canberra to do my PhD in Organic Chemistry. After that I was able to find a job and moved to the UK.

I currently use blogging (mostly for reading). Microblogging allows me to reach a wider and broader audience quickly and helps in interactive problem solving, especially for topics at the margins of my specialty. I tried to get into social bookmarking but never really saw the point in that. I also use social citation, and social/professional networking tools like Facebook, but mostly for social reasons. Friendfeed allows me to rapidly access a network of colleagues, and get insight and opinions on a convenient schedule, because active topics are constantly highlighted. It is much more convenient than email. Also I use iGoogle mainly to access Google Reader. There are so many tools I want to try but I don’t have the time.

The main reasons that made me use social media was peer pressure and because I wanted to see if they actually work. I generally like to play around with new software/ approaches, especially if it’s going to simplify my life.

The factors that discouraged me from using social media are that there are too many sites and it means I need to be more selective about which new sites to look at. That means that they have to be seriously interesting. If it is going to be complicated and take more than an hour to sort out then forget it because I can only devote that time if it’s mission critical.

I really don’t know if social media have helped me become a better researcher but it really means I can just about keep up. It takes a lot of time investment and I know I am ahead of the game in comparison to a lot of people but it is a trade-off information vs. time taken to accrue it. Time also includes task switching which is quite draining and it would be nice to get back to just concentrating on a single thing at a time.

If I couldn’t use social media I would probably curl up in a hole and die and kiss my research career goodbye. Well, probably not that bad, but I’d be reduced to sending emails – which no one has the time to reply to. I would also forget running multinational research projects.

I believe that social media will become more important to researchers once they become friendlier.

Anna Croft’s staff page: www.chemistry.bangor.ac.uk/akc

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


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