Saturday, 3 August 2013

How to use twitter - a guide for phd students

1) Follow the right people.  You have already decided that the reason you want to use twitter is to advance your learning and your studies, to do this it is best to follow people with similar intentions.  If you're wondering how you find out who these people are then go to the relevant 'chat' pages;
2) Engage in a relevant chat - use the right hashtag (#).  The hashtag symbol (#) is like a tagged conversation, so you carry on a conversation using the hashtag (#) symbol to identify it. Type in at the top of the twitter screen (once you have registered - using your real name) a relevant twitter chat hashtag: #phdchat, #phdforum, #socphd (social sciences), #acwri (academic writing) & #ecrchat (early career researcher).
3) Spend an afternoon following people.  You can always unfollow, and you can follow up to 2,000 people before twitter blocks you from following people.  This takes about an afternoon to click on follow for that many people - I recommend you do this from looking at the people contributing to the chats, then follow the people who are following them, after reading their profiles - aim to follow other academics and PhD students. Look at how many tweets people have done - the more they have chances are they are more experienced and so you'll have more to learn from them.
4) Start your own chat. I would say practice on existing chats first (as 2) - for about a month or so then for your topic area, if there isn't already a chat existing (check ).  Get together with some like minded people you met on twitter through 1) and 2) - send them direct messages if necessary and chat to them on the phone or Skype.  Your topic might have another hashtag or several.  Decide on a day, a unique hashtag title and a time and hey presto - you're started! 
5) Get some support  By this stage hopefully you will have at least one supporter or collaborator, you can help bounce ideas off each other.  You've got your topic now, all you need is a discussion theme every week or two and you're off!  Themes for weekly discussion are probably common to most PhDs so could be: Literature Review; Conceptual Framework; Methods; Results; Discussion; Analysis; Motivation and Procrastination.
6) Start a website or blog based on your chat. Wordpress is probably the best blogging site - you just need a unique name for your site and get going.  You can shorten your blogposts using and then post the links on twitter - using your chat hashtag from 4) above.  Send direct messages to those people who contributed to your chat to promote the website.
7) Celebrate milestones.  For example once your chat is 6 months old you can promote that and put on your website (6) all the achievements of your chat.

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