The Krafty Librarian blog (KL) has a thoughtful post on “Using Social Media to Enhance Research.” Blogs, wikis, Twitter and Facebook can be a rich resource for information about all kinds of topics. Patients Like Me is a blog where readers can connect with others with similar medical conditions, read others’ experiences of various treatments (drugs, physical therapy, supplements, etc.) and more. Twitter’s Streaming API is a powerful, near real-time tool for sampling sites and tweets. ResearchGate is a site that allows researchers to network, participate in discussions on research-related topics, and build a profile that helps make their work more visible.
Amidst this glut of options, it is easy to get hung up on the technology itself. Keep in mind that you don’t have to try everything at once. First, sit down and decide what your information needs are. If you need:
- In-depth discussions on certain research topics, look at blogs and wikis
- Real-time sampling of what people are thinking and saying on a given topic, try Twitter.
- Inspiration from people thinking out-of-the-box, look at the Facebook pages of enthusiastic upstarts in your field.
- To track new research, use RSS feeds and Google Reader
- Help clarifying your information needs before you can hope to begin utilizing these tools, ask a librarian!
Eccles Library staff have been on the cutting edge of information tools for many years, and both new and seasoned librarians can help you clarify which ones best meet your needs, and get you started using them. Just ask!
What social media tools do you use in your research? Tell us about it!