Other gubbins

One academic online

Blue bird sitting on ropeYesterday I took part in an event introducing social media to members of academic staff. I was asked to come along and act as one of two live case studies. I was there to share my experiences. The aim was to illustrate the possibilities and highlight some of the issues. The organizers suggested we each address the same set of questions. We offered very different perspectives.

I only had 10 minutes or so to talk and it felt a bit rushed. So I decided to elaborate on the presentation I gave on the day and turn it into something a bit more coherent. The document below is the result. I hope it is of some interest to others who are thinking of starting out.

Update (08/02/14)

We continue to live and learn as technology moves along. I just came across a recent post at The Sociological Imagination that discusses Medium.com as a vehicle for online academic writing. It allows you to self-publish rather than pitch ideas to an edited multi-authored blog, but it allows you to publish as often as you wish. I’d not come across Medium before. But it looks interesting and well worth checking out. It could well be an attractive option for academics looking to get involved in online writing but not wishing to commit to regular posting.

One Academic Online by Alex Marsh

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6 replies »

  1. Thanks for this Alex – it will be a great resource for those considering a foray into Social Media. One question I get is about the potential implications on publications if you blog about research – where do you draw the line and do journals ever have concerns about publishing something which has been blogged about. I tend to suggest common sense – don’t give away details, think about what would finally go into a paper and steer clear if in doubt – but it would be interesting to know if this has ever been an issue for you. (Given the range of things you blog about it or the topics you research may not apply.)

    • Sara – Thanks for your comment.

      To be honest, I’ve not (yet!) had any issues with this. I have used material that started life as blogposts for a couple of papers that have appeared in academic journals. But in both cases the material was embedded in broader arguments (in one case it was a collaborative paper bringing in a wide range of other issues) and was rearranged and reworked pretty heavily – points were both expanded and summarized. And by the time you’ve added reference to appropriate literature it starts to look quite a lot different from the original blogpost. I’d be surprised if more than one or two sentences survived intact.

      But I think you are right that this has absolutely got to be an issue to be borne in mind. Perhaps I’m lucky that I’ve not encountered a problem yet.

  2. A couple of things struck me when reading through your post – firstly, I’m a great believer in academics disseminating information to as wide an audience as possible in a way that works for the audience. I think blogs are an excellent way of doing this and provide a great mechanism for doing what Think Tanks do to a point, that is, simplifying information and providing short, accessible argument linked to academic or statistical work. Most people will not access weighty academic articles and texts, they are just too impenetrable to non academics. But they will read a blog post that draws on those same arguments and identifies key points of practical relevance. So it is a great way of reaching a much wider audience than through traditional academic journals and writing.

    A second point, that I am quite interested in, but know little about is whether or not there is scope for using social media as part of a research project, for data collection etc. I know you don’t cover this in your post but wondered if you were aware of anyone that would have done this or if you have? As an example, I regularly use professional LinkedIn discussion groups to share my blog and get some quite interesting information and ideas exchanged through some of the more active groups that help to inform my approach to taking the initial idea forward. Could you use this more systematically as a form of generating ideas and feedback for a research project? or as a form of online focus group?

    • Tessa, thanks for your comment. In relation to using digital material/methods for research, my feeling is there is plenty of discussion out there, although if I’m honest I only really know the broad outline of what it being discussed. The best place to start is probably looking up ‘digital sociology’ You might like to try starting with something like this:


      Which is one of the subgroups of the British Sociological Assocation.