I had the pleasure of attending a thought-provoking workshop hosted by jobs.ac.uk and Piirus on the topic of being a digital academic at the University of Warwick.
One of the speakers was Andy Tattersall (@AndyTattersall) who is an information specialist based at the University of Sheffield. His role involves researching opportunities relating to research, teaching and collaboration and to maintain networks that support this – no mean task!
Andy made so many suggestions on how to communicate and showcase both your research and you as an individual that I feel the pressure summarising them all in one blog post! I’ll give it a go anyway…………
What I really liked about Andy’s talk overall was how he highlighted lots of different digital outlets. He showed an appreciation that everyone works in different ways for different reasons, so it is important to try and find what platforms work well for you as an individual, rather than trying to fit into one platform because you think that’s what everyone else is using.
Andy gave some suggestions of where to start in the going digital process in his talk:
Blog – blog about what you know, think about who your target audience might be and what they would be interested in knowing. If you aren’t comfortable starting your own blog then contact different websites and companies that have blogs you think you could contribute to. Many are looking for guest bloggers, so it’s a nice way to have a go at blogging and make new contacts at the same time. Remember as a researcher you are an expert in something – an ideal guest blogger!
Be visible – select a few presentations you have given to be visible online. This can either be on University web pages, a blog you have or using software like Slideshare. There is also a lot of software to help with presentation making – have a look at Haiku Deck and Prezi.
Posters – make use of them! Often a poster is made for a specific event and then gathers dust in an office corner. Why not see if there is somewhere in your department that your poster can be displayed or even decorate your office with them so that people can see what your research is about!
Videos and animation – think about what aspects of your research could be communicated in this way. Are there particular techniques you could give a demonstration of? Could you demonstrate your research impact in this way or show your results? You don’t have to stand in front of a camera and talk, you could make an animation using free software like Adobe voice.
Audio – maybe you are not comfortable with video, so how about audio? You could record a lay summary of your research for you and each member of your research group and make a series or add these to your webpages. There are lots of software choices available to do this like Voice Record Pro available via iTunes which you can then upload to different platforms such as YouTube and Facebook.
Collaborate live – why not try using something like Google docs to work with colleagues on that paper you’ve been putting off? Set aside some time each week where you all sit down and work on the same document – this way you are using digital technology to be more productive as opposed to a form of procrastination!
Tweet! Head over to Twitter and see what all the fuss is about, you never know it might come in useful! You can follow others in your field, follow journals for information on the latest publications, find researchers in your field for collaboration and/or discussions. Twitter is like the local pub where people pop in to have a chat about what’s going on in their lives and their research. Tweeting about what you do might attract attention of companies and collaborators that could make your work more successful and widely disseminated.
Join a social network -This does relate to the last point as Twitter could be one option, but there are many others like Piirus and Mendeley. Why not have a look around and see what appeals the most to you – with research happening all over the world, there is no better way to find out about it than using online social networks.
Use about.me – about.me is a great way to summarise your online presence all in one place. You essentially create a profile where you can provide links to all of your professional profiles and webpages. It’s a good way to enable people to find you online.
Bitesize your content – try a combination of presentations, videos, audio recordings and photos to give people a snapshot of you and your research. This is going to look more appealing than a block of text on a webpage.
Try Evernote – this software allows you to take notes and photos and make quick presentations on the go based on your notes. A good way to keep notes in one place and use them to make visually appealing summaries.
Broaden your horizons – iTunes U and FutureLearn both have loads of free online courses on a range of topics, many from leading universities. TED talks has hundreds of videos of talks given by a range of speakers in over 130 countries with many events being held each year – check out some of the videos online or search for TED talks near you.
Monitor your progress – websites like almetric.com allow you to monitor your research impact whilst checking out the latest research in your field. Google scholar can also be used to track your publication citations and be used to increase your online visibility when made public so it can act as a landing page for your publications.
Try Figshare – This is a repository where users can make all of their research outputs available in a citable, shareable and discoverable manner.
Get yourself an ORCID – An ORCID is a digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher, ensuring your work is recognised.
Cut down on online distractions – do you spend extra time every day deleting e-mails from subscriptions you no longer use? Try Unroll.Me which allows you to see all of your subscriptions in one place and decide which to keep and which to cancel.
Form a peer support group – sometimes it is good to talk to people in a similar position. Why not set up a group to meet and work together? Often the pressure of working alongside the people can make you more focused and more productive!
- Don’t start the day with e-mails – they distract you from getting on with high priority tasks
- Use an app like 30/30 to manage your time effectively
- Have a walking meeting – combine exercise and discussion of research
- Mediate or take a regular break to recharge your batteries
- Start with something you have been avoiding – getting this out of the way can make you feel really good!
Phew! What a list! What Andy really showed in his talk which I hope you can see from this blog post, is that there is so much software available online to help you show what your research is all about. Much of it is free, it can save you time and it looks pretty! So why not have a go and see if there is anything out there you like – remember you don’t have to use everything, just find what works best for you.
I know I’ll be clicking on a few of the links provided above myself! Thanks to Andy and both @jobsacuk and Piirus for a fabulous event. I look forward to more hot chocolate, cakes and great discussions at the next one!
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