Social Media for researchers 101


Social media image ©

Most people I have met both clinically and through starting my research will speak of the value of networking. Even in health it can be all about who you know. These are people who can provide advice, ideas and even mentorship. I have taken advantage of many of these networks myself, using clinical excellence networks to spread the word about a book I wrote (so they could buy it- ha!), or to recruit SLTs to host potential sites for a multi-center research project.

But the internet provides a whole new wide world of opportunities for social networking. I went to the NIHR trainee meeting in Leeds this week where social networking was mentioned in almost every presentation or lecture, from requests to “please tweet about this event” to a workshop on using social media to enhance your reach. This speaker reminded us that the people evaluating our research ideas, will also be evaluating our online presence. At a grant or fellowship interviews for example there will be interviewers sat with their computers in front of them. They will likely google you in the same moments that you are presenting your research ideas. Do not let Facebook be the first thing they see! Increase your security settings if you haven’t already. And that is social media 101.

The basics:

Get 2-3 sites that you can maintain regularly. Choose from the following:

  • Blog/Wikis e.g. WordPress (but make sure you put lots of links on your pages so that it comes up higher on google searches, AND use copyright free images- cite where you found them, or buy stock images)
  • Micro-blogs- twitter (you don’t have to speak on twitter, you can just observe before you get into posting and hash tagging etc).
  • Personal connections – LinkedIn is a great platform for sharing a professional profile, and all your research articles (EVEN IN HEALTH!)
  • Interactive media – youtube can be a great place to put videos of your lectures/presentations and link these with your blog/website
  • Multi-platform website- just be aware people all be looking at things on computers/laptops/tablets/phones, make sure things look ok on all these platforms. These platforms increase people’s access and use of all the different sites!

A strategy for social media:

  1. Plan- determine your goals for social media and liaise with your funder or/and your organisation’s comms team to check you are name checking appropriately etc
  2. Prioritise- choose a couple of ares to focus on .e.g twitter ad linked in, too many things can be unmanageable.
  3. Pilot- Choose small groups to pilot ideas with for example you can check tweets with a user group, listen to feedback and make changes, let people know what is happening and think BIG (But start small)
  4. Deploy – Roll out to a larger audience, encourage feedback, be willing to edit and change….

So go on Google your own name – see what is out there about you!

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Professor Mike Trenell for his fantastic presentation @NIHRTM2015 @miketrenell.



Assignments = fun! (?)


Having recovered from my initial identity crisis I am now in another strange but wonderful phase – I am actually enjoying my homework! (?) Getting the funding for this PhD has been such a long journey that now I am here I have realised I can enjoy it. I chose to do this PhD, in fact I worked hard to get here. No one is going to fail me at the first hurdle ( I think!?!). I have permission to enjoy it.

Prior to embarking on this PhD journey I had always considered PhDs to be long self-directed projects that would require days tucked in the nook of some old library studying syntactic structures (or something) from an ancient but incredibly wise text. Yet, I have come to realise I get to go on lots of courses with lots of other people. The first period is vital for maximising training opportunities. I am doing a (slightly scary) stats module, I have been on a course to learn how to design a survey (Oooooo!) and am planning more courses to learn about systematic literature reviews. And I get assignments!

More importantly I seem to have mastered a trick whereby *at the moment* I am doing all my assignments in the hours I am contracted to actually do the PhD. I am certain this won’t last, but please don’t break my bubble too soon- i am at the top of the roller coaster right now, I am sure there are peaks and troughs around the corner (both higher and lower), but I can’t see them just yet. I am happy in the knowledge that for now, I am on the right ride!

And so it begins


Wow, the first month of doing a PhD takes a bit of adjustment!

I have been doing my PhD for a whole month now. It has already been amazing and also strange. The first two weeks took a lot of adjustment. As usual most new jobs require an induction period, so does a PhD. And the induction is useful for meeting your peer group. I have met ome amazing people and formed great friendships that I am sure will last for years. We have already spent time jointly stressing about our various statistics modules! And I anticipate we will be counselling each other through all the lows, and celebrating the highs together.

During the induction there were also a number of lectures that focused on future career development. And this is perhaps where my identity crisis began. For as a more ‘mature’ student with a career in place I found this quite strange. I suddenly had to think twice about what I was doing. Add to this the difference in the level of independence – I can work where I want and when I want (more or less). This really is a different mind set for me to take on. And it is great – I am being trusted to do my work!

My research has been funded by an NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship.