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Amplifying Research Engagement with Social Media

Resources and examples from UK higher education

December 6, 2018
 
 

UK universities conduct world-leading research on a daily basis. With so much research taking place, it's vital that institutions/academics are strategic, intentional, and creative in showcasing research impact. Social media are obvious avenues for storytelling, concise (or in-depth) explanations, and sharable content.

Underpinning any use of social media for enhancing research impact/awareness is that it takes time to 'get good' at using it. Social media is not a quick panacea for high levels of engagement. Crafting stories/content that resonate with external audiences requires a thorough knowledge of digital channels.

 

 

The good news is that there are a lot of really good resources that offer up tips, tactics, and strategies for using social media to amplify research engagement:

 

Here are some of my favourite examples of how universities are using social media to enhance access to research/academics:

Keele University utilizes Medium as a digital engagement channel to share academic stories via their ”expert voices” feature.

This clip from Sheffield Hallam University showcases cutting edge research combined with a story that is quite captivating.

 

 

The “Happy Song” came about because of research conducted by a cognitive psychologist at Goldsmiths, University of London who is literally an expert in baby laughter (I have an 18 month old son...this is literally research that resonates) - “We created a song that makes babies happy.”

 

 

The University of Glasgow is always leading the way when it comes to social media use at UK universities. Their “Ask the UofG Expert” series takes place via Facebook Live and presents a wonderful opportunity for people to engage with Glasgow's experts (and their research).

 

 

It is important to note that as I mentioned above that social media is not a magic wand for increasing research impact. It takes a lot of work and measurement is still an issue as cited in this quote from an excellent blog post at the London School of Economics:

“Increasing the impact of research is often cited as a reason for academics to engage with social media, either through widening the spread and readership of formal academic publications or as a mechanism to improve impact through enhanced public engagement. But underlying these claims about the benefit to researchers is a still elusive problem: what is impact and how do we measure it? Despite widespread agreement concerning the existence of social impact, how we identify and account for it is a much more controversial issue.” – from The impact agenda has led to social media being used in a role it may not be equipped to perform by Katy Jordan and Mark Carrigan.

However, even though it's not “easy” to use social media to amplify research impact, it is definitely worth the time and effort. In fact, as championed by the paragraph below, social media is a core facet of being an academic/researcher:

“Social media done right encourages open-mindedness, brainstorming and human contact – it encourages academics to communicate purposefully, be receptive to the input of colleagues and readers and lean on each other’s advice when and if they reach theoretical or methodological impasses. Social media done right constitutes the most effective way of disseminating research.” – from Open Research for Academics: how to be an academic in the twenty-first century by Caspar Addyman and Bianca Elena Ivanof.

What other resources would you add to this list? Please add them as a comment below. Thanks!

 

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