Things 4, 5 & 6 – Social media in science

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I have to say from a personal perspective I’m largely sceptical… ^can you tell? I think the idea of institutions, organisations and certainly businesses using sites like facebook and twitter holds a lot of merit. It spreads the word and it advertises…but the applicability to my ‘online brand’ in a professional context is limited IMO.

It doesn’t help that the nature of my work is so sensitive that every detail of my life has to be prodded and probed before I can even be allowed on site unchaperoned and when that day does come I can’t even have my phone on me, let alone walk round snapping pictures and hashtagging the hell out of them on Instagram!

As for my ‘online brand’ – I’m happy to keep the personal and professional aspects separate. Googling myself was an underwhelming experience, but I like it that way…I’m not presented with embarrassing photos or scandalous news stories (just the face of minor celebrity Richard Bacon, who has a few of his own!), or anything much about me really, yet with some small tweaks to the search it’s easy to find the content I want to be searchable, such as the professional profiles and published work I discussed in Thing 1.

Thing 1 – LinkedIn or Out?

As most of us are aware, the number of professional – and indeed scientific – social networking platforms has increased dramatically over the last decade (or so) following the launch of arguably the most famous in 2002 – LinkedIn. The pressure, therefore, for students and professionals, young and old, to establish an online presence is greater than ever. This pressure can come from academic supervisors, bosses or even from within and often centres on career advancement – getting a job, getting a promotion, making the right connections etc. As a result it can be a daunting arena to enter – one wrong move or comment or post can have dire consequences!

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My current exposure in the world of professional social media includes the aforementioned LinkedIn, and ResearchGate, which is a publication driven network and therefore much more scientifically orientated. The sheer number of networks available to join on LinkedIn means there will always be useful connections to be made and help to be found, but sifting through spam and volume to get to the prize can often be a major headache. Necessity dictated my introduction to ResearchGate following the publication of my first paper in 2013 and it has certainly helped the research reach more people than journal access alone – as my doctoral studies progress I can see the site being an increasingly frequent feature of my internet history! However, in both cases I don’t feel as if I have even close to fully engaged with the social process…and so…the aim of this endeavour is to analyse and explore my use of social media in a professional context and discover new techniques and platforms in the hope of getting more out of this expanding arena…all the while simultaneously providing some brief commentaries 🙂