Using social media for impact

Esrc_logoTomorrow I’m presenting a workshop on using social media for impact at the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) 2014 Final Year Conference (hash tag #esrcphd). This takes place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), and is hosted by the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science.

Social media are becoming increasingly important in an environment where “traditional” bibliometric indicators – measures of “academic” impact in terms of individuals’ quantity of publications and the quantity of citations to those publications (as codified in citation databases) – can be supplemented by alternative (or alt) metrics. Altmetrics assess the impact of individual output using various criteria across a range of platforms, making it possible for judgements of esteem to rely on more than a “mere” publication record. Visibility is thus becoming increasingly important for personal research impact and the reputational benefits that this brings, e.g. invitations to collaborate, speak at conferences, serve on committees etc. (For more information on altmetrics, please see my earlier post Altmetrics: achieving and measuring success in communicating research in the digital age.)

Social media also have a role to play in widening the reach of research output. They provide new ways to package and disseminate research findings and, when used strategically, can help ensure that investment in research projects delivers social and economic benefit. Researchers’ skills in understanding their target audiences’ preferences for consuming research output, and presenting research output in an way that is accessible to those whose attention is sought, determine whether research findings have adequate reach, and are ultimately translated into policies and actions.

In the session I’ll be encouraging delegates to consider the range of social media tools available to help increase research impact, and to share practical suggestions and recommendations on the use of social media to develop an online presence for work-related purposes, both at a personal and project level. We’ll be discussing the benefits of maintaining an online presence on particular sites, and distinguishing where you should be from where you could be.

For a flavour of the workshop, please see the SlideShare presentation below.

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