How to Use Social Bookmarks for Research

Social bookmarking sites aid collaboration and allow you to share useful webpages.

Social bookmarking: what is it?
Social bookmarking sites allow you to access collections of grouped websites from any networked terminal. Social bookmarking is the most efficient way for researchers to browse the net. Using the bookmark function on your web browser is inefficient because once you sit down at a different computer you simply can’t access your bookmarks.

This is especially useful if you are collaborating with other researchers. Tagging your bookmarks allows invited groups to access your bookmarking activity. You can also set up a feed that records your activity on your blog.

Social bookmarking: what websites?wolfson_research_exchange

Choose a site with lots of academic users to increase the social aspect of your bookmarking. Before you sign up, make sure the site allows you to set up a feed or group of tags.

  • Diigo ( has a particularly useful function for researchers – it allows you to highlight and add sticky notes to your saved webpages, retaining these whenever you review.
  • The pioneer of social bookmarking Delicious ( focuses on public sharing, and so is not your best choice if you want to restrict access to chosen groups.

Some sites offer reference management and social bookmarking, making them powerful tools for researchers: examples are Zotero (, CiteULike ( and Connotea ( However, be aware that these are primarily citation resources, not bookmarking software.


Advantages of social bookmarking

1) Convenience: you and your collaborators can access bookmarked sites from any networked computer.

2) Accumulation: anyone in the group can add to this list.

3) Metadata: descriptions can be added to each saved site, so that you can identify which sites are useful without downloading.

4) Activity: setting up a feed to your blog or website will create a post every time you bookmark. If you don’t want to blog in this way, add a badge that links to your social bookmarking site.


Potential pitfalls of social bookmarking

1) Unreliability: free service providers may withdraw service, meaning that you’ll lose your stored bookmarks. Make sure you have the ability to export/import bookmarks. Don’t let all that browsing go to waste!

2) Confusion: lots of accounts means lots of passwords. A good feature of Diigo is that it lets you sign in with Google, Twitter of Facebook passwords.


How do I set up an account?

Social bookmarking can seem complex, but is an excellent way to interact with other academics and to conduct and store your own web research. Here is a guide to getting started with Delicious ( and videos on installing Diigo (, Zotero ( and Connotea (


UPDATE: More recently, Evernote is further incorporated into social bookmarking functions, such as the web-clip feature that can clone a webpage and save as is on your Evernote account. You can also work as a group using Evernote

-Written by Nicolas Pillai

Photo Credit: CreativeCommon/Webtreat

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