Yesterday's discussion covered a range of useful topics including:
- How blog use by researchers may differ depending on their disciplinary perspectives - for example, issues surrounding commercially sensitive information which are a particular consideration in chemoinformatics projects, or the more detailed, reflective approach to methodology development which is such a significant part of the social science research process.
- How other social media tools - such as Twitter and Facebook - can be used to engage with potential research participants - and may themselves form the basis for research studies.
- The range of audiences which a blogger may be writing for (people I know, people I'd like my research to help) and the actual audience which a blog might reach (potentially a global audience and including people who are willing to engage in the discussion and to comment, question and criticise).
- The tension between all the things which a researcher could potentially post about, and those things which the individual researcher feels comfortable discussing in such a public forum. This may be further complicated by ethical considerations, or issues relating to prior publication.
- Using blogs such as this one (and these discussion sessions) to engage in a more collaborative and open way to address common problems encountered by researchers, by exploring practical questions such as "what survey tool should I use?"
- Using the blog (and the discussion sessions) to provide an opportunity for people further along in the PhD process to reflect back on their experiences. In particular, the viva experience was identified as something which could potentially be demystified by future discussions / posts.
I was also asked about the most popular post on my own blog. At the time, I couldn't recall which this was but, having checked the statistics, this post about PG Cafe Forum from May 2011 is at the top of the list. At the time PG Cafe Forum didn't have it's own website, and it seems that my blog entry was one of a relatively small number of Google-able sources with these words in the title - it seems that by giving the post that title, I was engaging in some unintentional search engine optimisation!