e-Research: social media for social sciences

On January 12, 2012, I spoke at a research seminar on how to benefit from the use of social media to enhance research, both in the stage of being aware of the advancement of one’s discipline, and in the stage of diffusing one’s own research production.

The seminar had three different parts.

During the first part, I provided an introduction to social media, where I mainly explained the main ways that information can be shared (and, thus, also monitored): RSS feeds, widgets and open APIs. Put short, RSS feeds share preset bits of information (e.g. an article, a list of articles, etc.), widgets share preset bits of information plus a preset way of presenting it (a list of last tweets you can embed on a website, a like button, etc.) and open APIs allow an external user to ask a database for customized collections of data (e.g. put on a map the last tweets on a given subject).

During the second part — the core of the seminar — I went through an imaginary typical research process, from the moment one has an idea that wants to explore until the research is over and a research output can be presented. I draw two parallel timelines where I complemented the traditional way of doing research (on the right in the presentation) and how this could be enhanced with social media (on the left in the presentation). I stressed the idea that social media is a complement and never a substitute of the traditional ways of doing research. That is, tweeting about a topic or writing on an academic blog should not stop anyone from attending conferences or writing academic papers.

The last part of the seminar was a debate about the pros and cons of using social media to do research.

There are four points I would like to highlight from that debate and that were directly or indirectly asked to me during our talk.

  1. What is the basic, fundamental tool: RSS feeds. Period. It is for me very important to be aware of the fact that, with the help of RSS feeds, you don’t have to look for information, but information will get to you. And this is a significant leap in reaching higher stages of efficiency and efficacy in managing information.
  2. If you are a knowledge worker and you are not present in the information landscape, you are not. Having a personal/research group/research project website is not an option, but a must.
  3. Where to start from? It depends. Begin with a part of your research. If you are in the stage of gathering information, set up a monitoring/listening strategy: identify your actors and subscribe to their blogs, twitter accounts, slideshare accounts, etc. If you are in the stage of diffusing your research production, set up a diffusion strategy, upload your papers and slides, comment on others’ websites (pointing back to yours, etc.). Managing efficiently your bibliography (i.e. with a bibliographic manager) is also a way to begin managing your own information/knowledge.
  4. Think digital, be digital. e-Research is not about adding a digital layer, and, thus, adding an extra amount of work, but about changing your working paradigm, about levering all the work you are already doing on digital support.

Following you can find and download the slides I used. You can also download a book chapter where I explain in detail the building of a Personal Research Portal. There is a collection I maintain, The Personal Research Portal: related works which gathers everything I have written or said about this topic.

[click here to enlarge]


logo of Prezi presentation
Prezi slides:
Peña-López, I. (2011). e-Research: social media for social sciences. Research seminar at the Open University of Catalonia. January 12, 2012. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
logo of PDF file
Slides as a PDF:
Peña-López, I. (2011). e-Research: social media for social sciences. Research seminar at the Open University of Catalonia. January 12, 2012. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
logo of PDF file
Book chapter:
Peña-López, I. (2009). “The personal research portal”. In Hatzipanagos, S. & Warburton, S. (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Social Software and Developing Community Ontologies, Chapter XXVI, 400-414. Hershey: IGI Global.


If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2012) “e-Research: social media for social sciences” In ICTlogy, #100, January 2012. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from https://ictlogy.net/review/?p=3887

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1 Comment to “e-Research: social media for social sciences” »

  1. Great topic, Ismael. On point with #1 is the help of Google Alerts- which will email you Web updates.They are very handy.

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