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Making your blog more interactive

Blogging can be a great way to disseminate your research, but how can you make your blog stand out from the crowd? This guide by Dilip Mutum offers ideas for attracting more readers and commentators to your blog and interacting with other blogs.

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Using Twitter to boost your research profile

As Twitter infiltrates academia, postgraduate researchers and academics alike are asking: to tweet or not to tweet? Here Dilip Mutum provides some useful tips on using Twitter to disseminate your research, keep up to date and ask questions.

Twitter_Town_Hall_audience

It may be hard to explain your research using just 140 characters. However, an increasing number of academics are doing just that: using Twitter as a means of sharing their work.

Twitter: an overview
Twitter is the fastest-growing social network in the world, so it’s well worth it to tap into this as a resource for disseminating your work.

Twitter is a microblogging site. It is called microblogging because it only allows you to post a message comprising of a maximum of 140 characters called a tweet. You can subscribe to other users’ tweets by following them. Users who like your tweet can then retweet it, sending it out to their own group of followers.

When you post a tweet, other users can reply with their own tweet and your user name is automatically appended so that you can track the reply. On the Twitter page, you can see the replies by clicking @Mentions on the menu.

Here are some tips for using Twitter to build up your research profile:

Asking questions
By asking questions on Twitter you can get almost instant feedback on certain topics (depending on your followers). See here for more advice on asking effective questions.

If you have a research question, post it up on Twitter and use hashtags (for example, #warwick) for the specific keywords which you think are important. Read this for more information on how hashtags are used. Hashtags mean your tweet will be seen, and retweeted, by more users.
It’s important to acknowledge others’ responses to your questions, as this can help you build relationships with other users.

Tweetdeck
When you have thousands of followers, it is almost impossible to follow all the conversations going on and an application like Tweetdeck can help you manage the flood of information. This application allows you to organise and manage the people you follow and the topics more effectively without even opening your browser. You can also use Tweetdeck to schedule tweets throughout the week.

How different researchers use Twitter
Different people use Twitter differently. Some people use it as a way to disseminate news about their research findings, while others use it to keep up to date with what people in their field of research are doing. Twitter can also be great way to build a network of people who can help you with your research.

Here are some examples of academics who use Twitter in different ways to further their research:
• Roberta, a teaching fellow at the School of Management, Royal Holloway, mainly uses it to share news she finds interesting with her followers. She also finds it interesting to read updates from political activists.

  • Finola (@FinolaK), a lecturer in marketing at Kings College, London, also uses Twitter to keep up with news, recent work and conferences on specific topics that interest her, like copyright and social media. She also follows academics and critics concerned with film, her main research area, and publicises events and calls for papers.
  • Professor Mustafa at the Brunel Business School uses Twitter to note some of his findings. His Twitter account is linked to his Facebook account and the most interesting discussions, for him, take place in Facebook.

Potential problems with using Twitter

If you are a new user and do not have that many followers, the use of Twitter as a research tool can be somewhat limited. Linking it with other social networks such as Facebook (via the Twitter app) and LinkedIn, where you might have more friends, will help you build up a Twitter presence.

Sometimes 140 characters are just not enough to get the message across; for discussion of complicated issues you may need to contact users directly via email or by phone.

References:
Hendry Lee’s excellent post on using Twitter for research
How to Ask Effective Questions on Twitter, by Darren Rowse:
The Ultimate Guide to Twitter Hashtags

Image Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, Wikicommons

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Marketing for arts researchers: the basics

Marketing yourself and your research in the arts can be a tricky concept. Where should you begin? What information should you make public? How can you stand out? Here Peter Kirwan provides advice on raising your academic profile and spreading the word about your research.

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Talking about your research in conversation

Networking and public engagement can be the key to a successful career or project, yet many researchers find it hard to talk about their work. Here Peter Kirwan tells you how to introduce your work in conversation to make it stand out.

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Your research online: e-profiles for Arts PhDs

All researchers should aim to have a strong, up-to-date online presence. Here are some tips for maximising the effectiveness of e-profile. Here Peter Kirwan gives you a guide to getting the right message across online.

Twitter_Town_Hall_audience

E-profiles for researchers

An e-profile acts as an informal online CV. It presents the most important aspects of your career and research in a public forum, and may be seen by both peers and prospective employers.

There are a lot of benefits to having an online presence. It is increasingly normal for conference delegates, for example, to Google one another before meeting in person. It’s also important for interacting with online arts networks and forums, which are becoming more and more important in academic and arts-related debates.

A Warwick e-Portfolio may be an especially good platform for an e-profile because it works smoothly and comes up very high in Google searches – but any online presence at all is a great idea for arts researchers.

It’s important to adjust your content for new audiences and learn to describe your research to appeal to the wider arts community as well as fellow researchers. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your e-profile.

Summarising your research

Your main profile page should summarise the most important facts about yourself and link to further information. Don’t fill it up with small details – use it to introduce yourself. And don’t be afraid to be personal. You might include a brief thesis abstract, a photograph, and details of your home department and career to date.

Think about where your research engages with the wider arts sector – how will you convey your potential connections to relevant communities like production companies, authors or archivists?

Other things to include

If you are working on a solitary project (like the typical PhD thesis), the portfolio allows you to show what else you have to offer. Publications, conferences, reading groups, seminars, memberships and teaching are all great things to mention.

Selling your research online

Adapt your thesis abstract for an online audience. You may be tempted to outline your arguments at great length, but be aware that online readers have short attention spans.

Take advantage of the general interest aspects of your work to draw readers in. Ensure that you prioritise:

  • Your general field
  • Periods and geographical locations covered
  • Methodology
  • Key texts, authors or thinkers
  • Key arguments

It is important to provide the context from which your work originates, but also point out how your research is unique.

Getting specific

Strike a balance between detail and generalising. Plagiarism does occur; so be careful not to describe your most important work in exhaustive detail. Tell the reader what your work aims to achieve and how you plan to do it; but a few major references and points is enough.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to be specific either. If you list texts or people that you are interested in, you may attract comments and suggestions from researchers working on related topics. Link to relevant videos, news articles and images (but be aware of copyright issues).

Keeping your page up to date

Use your e-profile to keep up to date with the wider research and cultural communities.

If you have a blog or Twitter account, link to them from your e-profile, using an RSS feed if possible. You can also link your e-profile to an academia.edu account: if you’re not familiar with it, it’s an academic social network that can connect you to other researchers as well as signpost your e-profile.

It’s also a good idea to create a ‘news’ or ‘events’ section and update it with relevant exhibitions, performances, new books, archaeological finds or anything else in the media that connects to your research. This will show that your profile is continually updated, so readers may return to it repeatedly. Maintain links to arts organisations and research groups (and if these groups keep lists of links and subscribers, ask to be included).

Standing out

Arts e-profiles are still rare enough to be a distinguishing feature of a researcher’s portfolio, so promote it. Link to it in your e-mail signature, and make sure the site includes contact details.

Arts e-profiles are still rare enough to be a distinguishing feature of a researcher’s portfolio, so promote it. Link to it in your e-mail signature, and make sure the site includes contact details.

Think of the e-profile as a way to begin conversations. Readers may wish to get in touch with you for further details, or to suggest useful references and ideas. The more generous you are able to be, the more the portfolio will help you forge links in the academic and arts communities.

The Warwick guide to e-Portfolios includes examples and tips.

Image Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, Wikicommons

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Impact and Early Career Researchers

Impact is a key word in academia at the moment, but what does it mean and how can early career researchers get involved in Impact activities? In this short guide to impact for ECRs Charlotte Mathieson explains all.