Are you a lurker or a sharer? Why you should be sharing your research online18 September 2018
“What experience do you have of using digital or social media to raise your research profile?”
This was a question a fellow PhD student asked me in a mock interview at the Doctoral Academy’s Career Management for Postgraduate and Early Career Researchers workshop not too long ago. And there it was – the realisation that when it comes to publishing and disseminating my doctoral research in the online domain, I may have been what Professor Patrick Dunleavy would diagnose as a ‘social media hermit’. I am not an academic digiphobe – quite on the contrary, I am no stranger to using social media to support teaching, connecting with professionals through LinkedIn, or telling fellow academics about my projects on Research Gate. Not only that – I have, in fact, done serious academic and professional research about the value of using technology to support training and development or service delivery.
“Him that makes shoes go barefoot himself”, said Robert Burton in “The anatomy of melancholy”, long before the arrival of the Internet of Things, Web 2.0 or hashtags. But that’s not it. When it comes to Tweeting and otherwise about your academic research, the views may be mixed. In the novel ‘Amor o lo que sea’, a melancholic story of an aspiring writer struggling to transition into professional adulthood, we learn that one should not talk about things which are not finished for it brings bad luck… someone might even copy it! Superstitions aside, there is something about letting your brainchild that is the PhD fly the nest prematurely, exposing all of its work-in-progress vulnerabilities in a way that leaves a permanent digital trace for the scholarly savvy to see. The fear has been so paralysing it may have been stopping me from proudly clicking ‘Add update’. I have been moving forward with my work, but it never felt quite finished for the world to see outside of the conference room.
The six ascetic months spent in the quiet space of the Doctoral Academy Researchers’ Room, putting my electronic pen to paper, have borne fruit. As I am putting the finishing touch on the final version of my doctoral dissertation, I am ready for a new chapter in my academic career. Today, I am starting with reversing years of digital lurking at other people’s research into posting about mine. So, let me introduce myself…
- Who am I? An organisational ethnographer, interested in studying how people interact in healthcare organisations, especially in the context of managing chronic stigmatised conditions.
- What is my topic? Wound healing, dirty work and clinician-patient relationships.
- What have I discovered? That ‘clinician-patient relation’ can represent a support and a resource for dealing with professional and social stigma of wound healing and wounds through collaborating on plenty of fascinating forms of advocacy initiatives.
- What are the wider implications of my research? Chronic conditions open up a space for clinicians and patients to use in socially innovative ways that make the medical encounter an exchange rather than just ‘doctor’s orders’.
To my fellow doctoral students working on improving their academic digital presence – to paraphrase Professor Dunleavy – “if you’ve devoted [years] to writing the [dissertation], dealing with comments, doing rewrites … why would you not spend the extra couple of hours crafting an accessible blog post?” Thank you, Doctoral Academy, for giving me the resources to take the first serious stab at digital publishing and disseminating what is now a nearly finished piece of research – an assembled audience of other researchers, a tried and tested platform, and support from engagement experts.
What are my plans for after the PhD? Well, watch my digital space!