Using social media to support your research

An understanding of the research cycle and of the range of tools available will help researchers select the tools appropriate to their needs.

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Unnderstanding social media's role throughout the research life cycle

UCL's report into the use of social media in research (2010) found that "Social media have found serious application at all points of the research lifecycle."  And "Researchers are using social media tools to support every phase of the research lifecycle: from identifying research opportunities to disseminating findings at the end." 

Taking the research life cycle proposed in the UCL report and overlaying a social media framework, along with some examples, provides us with the ability to make sense of the social media landscape within the context of research requirements. 

Social Networking Diagram

These tools do not necessarily take the place of ‘traditional' tools or ways of working, but do supplement them.  They enable you to have a greater choice of tools that are appropriate to your needs, research topic and audience.

Critical evaluation and choice

The filters and research strategy will depend on your research question requirements -- in the same way you would evaluate on a case by case approach to information gathering, the same applies for your selection of the research tools at your disposal - both traditional and social media. 

The key is to be clear about your purpose.

Noeleen Schenk is Director at IKMConsult.  This article is a summary of the presentation she gave at the LIKE Ideas Conference, 29th June 2012.


Fred Cavazza

Research Information Network: Social Media - a guide for researchers. February 2011.

Social Media and Research Workflow. CIBER, UCL, December 2010

Image courtesy of eldh via Twitter.

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