There’s a meme saying that “on Facebook you tell lies to your friends, on Twitter you tell the truth to strangers”. However one-dimensional and untrue this might be, Twitter has become a powerful social platform where you can connect with people you share an interest with, but with whom you not necessarily “know”. If your Facebook friends make up your “social graph”, your Twitter connections make up your “interest graph”.
Recently, I stumbled upon tweets ending with the hashtag PhDChat (Search on Twitter for #phdchat). I thought that this was a rather informal channel where PhD students discuss the nitty-gritties of being a PhD student. Then I contacted Liz Thackray (@lizith on Twitter), with whom I had the following correspondence with (read from bottom-up):
It turned out that this hashtag – this discussion thread – has a moderator, Nasima Riazat (@NSRiazat on Twitter), who every week posts a poll where participants can vote on what topic they want to discuss.
The topics for tonight, April 6th, are:
• Defining conceptual frameworks. :-)))
• Writing up findings for a non academic audience.
• Research design/methodology.
• PhD and work/life balance.
• Effectively using the expertise of supervisors/academics in the field.
• Strategies for analysing data.
• Being relexive – avoiding bias.
See the poll where currently “Writing up findings for a non academic audience” is in the lead with five votes.
This is in deed a very interesting example of how a collaborative media platform can be used for planning and hosting discussions among people who have no or little social connection, but only are connected through a shared interest. Since all discussions are 100 percent public, anyone can follow and join in on the discussion.
Do you have first-hand experience of participating in the #phdchat thread? Please let us know what it’s like!
Update: read Liz Thackray’s reflection on #phdchat or Martin Paul Eve’s post On #PhDchat: Call for Collaboration/History, Overview, Themes and Response.
Image credit: joelaz CC:BY-NC-ND