Social Media Training for Researchers

I have avid experience of using Social Media as a researcher and an academic (see articles below), and I am the proud writer of the 10 ways researchers can use Twitter article on the Networked Researcher website, which receives around 1000 hits per month. I have also prepared a Twitter training workshop for PhD students at the University of Warwick which will run in March 2012. If you would like to me to run a workshop on Social Media/Twitter for researchers/academics, please contact me.


Articles written by me related to Social Media for researchers:

I’m an academic and desperately need an online presence, where do I start?

My post over at the LSE Impact Blog discusses simple, practical tips for academics who want to start engaging with the wider world through social media. Check it out here:






A copy of the post is pasted below:

Salma Patel has been on a whistle-stop tour of academic social media channels. Here she shares her simple, practical tips for academics who want to start engaging with the wider world through social media.

I’m an academic and desperately need an online presence because I want to start engaging with the public and disseminate my research online  – where do I start?

1. LinkedIn: Create a LinkedIn profile. This is really easy to do and doesn’t require you to talk to anyone.

  • Register an account and fill in your details.
  • LinkedIn allows you to search through your mail to find any if your contacts on LinkedIn. Connect to all those that come up.

2. Academia: Create an profile. This again is very straight forward to do, and doesn’t require any specialist skills.

3. Twitter: Once you’ve created a LinkedIn and profile, let’s move to Twitter. Twitter will require more work, patience and a sense of humour. You can start off by either attending a twitter workshop/social network surgery, asking a friend/colleague to quickly show you how twitter works or you can read this LSE guide to twitter.

  • Create a twitter account using your real name.
  • Twitter will ask you to place a very short profile of yourself. You can either keep it really simple [Job Title at Uni of X] or make it more quirky. Don’t worry too much about this at this stage (you can change it later), but what will really help is to have a nosey around other academics on twitter.
  • Start following people on twitter. Again you can find followers using your email address. Another really good way to find followers is to find someone on twitter who has very similar academic interests to you. Now look through who that person is following, and follow those people.
  • Once you start following people, they are normally alerted and they may start following you back if your profile looks interesting to them (so make it interesting). Also place a few interesting tweets out before you start following people that don’t know you personally.
  • The key to getting followers on twitter is to Engage! Start talking to people, if you see a tweet of interest reply to it. If you see a conversation going in between two people, butt in and join in (as far as I know it isn’t rude in the twitter world to do that). When you are starting off this may be difficult to do, but it is not difficult to help people. If someone asks something, take those extra few minutes out from your busy schedule and help them. Trust me, you will see a return.
  • Another really quick way to get followers is to take part in twitter chats (twitter chat schedule). There may not be twitter chats in your area of research (not to worry, you can always consider starting off your own chat in the future), but you can always take part in #phdchat which runs every Wednesday evening at 7pm
  • What shall I tweet about? Have a look at this prezi or article which looks at 1o ways researchers use twitter. Then have a look at what other academics are tweeting about on twitter, and if you are really stuck put your name down for this online webcast.

4. Blogging: Once you have familiarised yourself with Twitter and have plenty more to talk about, you can think about blogging. With blogging there are a few practical things to consider:

1. Blog name:  The name of the blog depends on what you plan to blog about. If you plan to blog about a specific area, then you could keep your blog’s name related to that. If you plan to blog about a multitude of themes, you could have a made up name or you could name your blog/website by your own name, and as well placing your profile on there, you could place your blog on there too.  I have seen academics do both.

Please note: If you have a very common name, and really want to be at the top of Google ranking (number one) when someone searchers your name, you may want to consider keeping your blog name your own name. If you have name that isn’t as common and you blog regularly on a theme based blog, you may still come at the top of Google when searched by your name.

2. Where do I blog? You could blog on an already existing blog (such as at your university or a research group) or you could start your own blog.

For your own blog, if you want to set it up yourself then you have two options. You can blog on wordpress/blogspot or any other blog provider (maybe even an internal university blog provider). For WordPress (the most popular), register an account on and start blogging. Your blog website will be: [name selected]

The disadvantage of using this is there is a limit to how far you can customize and there are also a limited amount of themes you can use. If you have some time I would recommend using wordpress to power your own website, and very simply this is how you would do it:

  • Purchase your own website name and hosting. This will cost between £10-£20 a year if you have a good look around. You can check here whether the domain name you are thinking of is available here. After you have found your domain name purchase your domain name and hosting from a hosting provider, but please ensure they support wordpress as it will make your life easier.
  • Install wordpress on your website.
  • Find a wordpress theme that you like. You can either buy one or find a free one. Use Google to find one.
  • Setup an about page for your own profile and meanwhile have a good look around other academic’s blog/websites.
  • Once it is all setup start blogging and spreading your posts through Twitter and LinkedIn!

5. Other Engagement Tools

There are other platforms you can use to help you engage, such as curation tools. I would recommend you start using them once you have at least 1-3 setup. To quote from a recently published article on this blog:

Curation and sharing of content
Curation and sharing platforms such as Delicious, SlideSharePinterest,, Pearltrees, Bundlr, and Storify, as well as referencing tools such as Mendeley, Citeulike and Zotero, allow academics to easily gather and present information and, importantly, to then make the information public and share it with others online. On SlideShare you can share your Powerpoint presentations and the referencing tools allow you to gather lists of references on specific topics and then share these with others. Several of these tools, including Pinterest, Bundlr and Storify, allow you to insert your own comments or analysis on the material you have gathered.

Don’t be afraid to try out new platforms and ditch them if they don’t work for you.

6. A few other specific things you could do to get a stronger online presence and get some followers.

1. Contribute to an existing blog in your field. An example is this Impact of Social Sciences BlogThe Guardian Higher Education Network, or if those seem too time consuming or you feel you can’t contribute much to those areas, you can write your quick viva story for PhD Viva and other such websites.
2. Take part in #phdchat. You’ll definitely get some followers and plus as a supervisor/academic/ex-PhD student, PhD students will really appreciate your presence, advice and contribution.
3. Contribute as a panelist to the Guardian Higher Education Live Chats (they normally run on a Friday afternoon). They normally recruit through their twitter account or drop them an email.

Tools used to measure influence & resonance of a twitter account

Tools used to measure influence & resonance of a twitter account:

Prezi: 10 ways researchers can use Twitter

This prezi is related to my article ’10 ways researchers can use Twitter’ on Networked Researcher. A copy of the post is below:

Today Salma Patel considers 10 ways that researchers could use the micro-blogging tool twitter. Salma is a doctoral researcher at the University of Warwick with a primary research interest in digital engagement and participation in healthcare. She has a background in computing, web design, education, librarianship and management. She blogs at you can follow her on twitter @salma_patel.

The purpose of networked researcher is to introduce, promote and support the use of social media and digital technology in research and researcher development. As such todays post is available on prezi here and storify here.

1. Join the research community: There is a large research community on twitter. For example:

#phdchat is one such example of a doctoral research community, where tweeps (people that use Twitter) share experiences of their PhD and advise fellow researchers. #phdchat also runs a live chat on twitter which runs on a Wednesday evening at 7.30pm BST.

#twitjc is a Twitter Journal Club which provides a place where doctors, researchers, authors and medical students can discuss publications relevant to clinical medicine. It runs at 8pm every Sunday and has so far it has attracted 950 followers.

2. Share your research and publications: Using Twitter you can share your research or disseminate your findings. It is also an effective way to share your publications or conference papers/posters. If you are looking for citations and hits to your article, it is a good way to achieve this.

3. Interact with the ‘outside world’: It is an easy way to keep up with the outside world, whether that is fellow colleagues, researchers from other universities, companies in your industry or even conferences. You will be updated about conference dates and submission deadlines.

4. Get answers to your research related questions: On twitter there are many helpful people who will answer your questions, whether they are research related questions, questions related to your study, or questions related to your own interests.

5. Network: Twitter is a useful networking tool, using which you can meet people who follow similar interests to you. As a researcher interested in healthcare and technology, I have ‘met’ many people from the healthcare industry and also many doctoral researchers. You can also use twitter to recruit participants for any of your studies.

6. Share your experiences: It is a good idea to share your experiences, whether they are research related or otherwise. Once you share your experience (whether positive or negative) you will soon find others who are experiencing the same, if not similar experience, and you can have a good ‘ole banter together; but more importantly, learn from each other too.

7. Keep tabs on your competition: Who is doing what and when? This will give you a good idea of what is going on in your field. You could fade in the background and just keep tabs on everyone else.

8. Collaborate: Have you got an idea but unsure whether it will work? Or are you thinking of using a research methodology but unsure whether it is appropriate? Send out a tweet with an appropriate hashtag (such as #phdchat for research issues) and before you know it, they’ll be others giving you (free) advice!

9. Keep up-to-date with your research: Follow people who have similar interests to you and you will be updated with all the research in your area (again for free!). No need to worry about missing out now.

10. Follow conferences you can’t attend: Use Twitter is to follow conferences that you can’t attend. People attending a certain conference usually tweet using the conferences #hashtag. As long as you know the #hashtag, you can read the entire on goings and sometimes even pose questions to the presenters through other twitter users at the conference. Interact without paying the conference fee!

Can you think of other ways twitter could be used by researchers?

Storify: 10 ways researchers can use Twitter