Research at Risk

Addressing the digital research skills challenge using social media

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been promoting a consultation through various social media channels. We want the UK research and research support community to engage with the challenges for the future. These came out of previous consultation with the sector to develop a vision for Jisc. We want to have your ideas support and services that need development. The two research related challenges concern digital research skills, and how we can help to address potential gaps in provision, and the design features for a next generation research environment to improve research efficiency, collaboration and use of funding, amongst other factors.

Running a consultation over a short time period, and therefore restricted to online means, has its shortcomings. In particular where there is no existing community around an ongoing programme of work we are asking people to stick their heads above the parapet at short notice to give their views and submit their ideas publicly. For some this comes easily; for others we’ve tried to offer a variety of ways (including anonymous commenting on a Google doc) that they can have their voice heard. Also in a bid to reach as many people as possible we’ve been using a proliferation of channels: twitter, storify, blog, website, google docs, google forms.

We’ve benefitted from our friends in the community being willing to come along, join in, tweet, share, submit ideas and generate discussion. We’re also finding that we’re able to reach out to a wide cross section of the sector, though possibly not as widely as we’d like. Currently we’ve not had much feedback from actual researchers, although we’ve reached a good proportion of research support staff.

Talking in tweets!

I’d not previously been involved in a ‘tweetchat’ – now I’ve run one! In an hour last week, trailed with reminders, there was an exchange of c.200 tweets around the topic of digital research skills. I’ve pulled together the thread of the discussion into a Storify page, which also introduces both challenges and summarises the first week of twitter discussion. Arising from that an experienced trainer and librarian has also written a her own blog post (unasked!) summarising her view of the discussion and offering up further provocation for the area.

By email we received some feedback that we should also be considering the culture and social aspects of our skills challenge. We adjusted the questions we asked in the tweetchat in response to this. On skills we’ve had a lot of suggestions, including “negotiation, teamwork, planning, … hustling” (thanks to @reddite on twitter). Can you add your views to the debate?

Christopher Brown, also from Jisc, who is running the other challenge into the next generation research environments, has had an article published in Research Information. His tweetchat was yesterday and another lively conversation was generated. Watch this space for an update on the outcomes of that.

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