Benefits and concerns of using social media as an academic

social-media-infographic-coverEarlier this year hosted two events:

  • a Google Hangout on How to be a Successful Digital Academic to Boost Your Career
  • a workshop on Tools and Tips for Research Impact and ECR Employability

Out of the talks and discussions at these events, we gathered insight on the benefits and concerns of using social media as an academic. And we’ve presented them together in our latest infographic.

Using social media as an academic

social media infographic cover

Concerns of academics using social media

The concerns raised include:

  • finding the time for yet another task
  • too many networks to choose from
  • accusations of plagiarism
  • harassment
  • personal posts damaging your image

What’s great about the research community on social media is that there’s lots of support provided. You’ll find plenty of people offering tips on how to counter these concerns. Here’s some from me to get you started.

If you’re worried about the amount of time you could spend on social media, don’t link up your accounts to your phone or have notifications set up. Give yourself a set amount of time per day to the task, and stick to it.

You might be overwhelmed by the choice of networks to join, but there’s plenty of information out there on what each has to offer. Before you get stuck in, create a shortlist and spend a bit of time researching each one.

There’s often a blurred line between personal and professional identities online. If you want to keep them totally separate make sure you use a pseudonym for any personal accounts that are public.

For more help in these areas, keep an eye out for new content on the blog that can help you to:

  • review and manage your digital identity
  • choose which social networks will benefit you most

When it comes to accusations of plagiarism, Jenny Delasalle has written a great post on what you need to consider when writing about your research online.

If you’re concerned about harassment then there are mechanisms built into most of the networks that allow you to block and report any malicious users. If you’ve got your own blog then setting up comment moderation allows you to review comments before they appear on your posts.

Benefits for academics using social media

In my view, the benefits far outweigh the concerns. Through social media you can:

  • make connections and collaborate with researchers across the globe
  • reach and engage with new audiences
  • disseminate your research, ideas, and skills
  • build your reputation outside your own field and institution
  • track the impact of your research

With impact, engagement and interdisciplinary collaboration so high on the agenda, social media offers new channels to enhance your work and its reach.


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