Taking your first steps in the world of academia can be intimidating. We have all experienced it while preparing research proposals, sitting in exams, and discussing research projects with peers and professors. What can make it easier is the thriving research community you can find online. By participating in it, you can create connections, find information, learn and enhance your skill-set in research, scientific writing, and so much more. However cliche it might sound, participating in the community is a great investment in the future.
What are, then, the best places to look for research-oriented social networking? Where do Internet personas of researchers and students congregate? Read on and find our suggestions.
I know, the first one is not that innovative or unexpected. But our lumbering giant of social networking can be used for much more than sharing pictures with your family and friends or discussing the last concert of your favourite band. Not that using a social network for socializing is wrong. I still remember how we had discussed in the JEPS team if promoting our journal and services through Facebook was the right way to go. At that time, we were against it because Facebook is mostly for leisure activities and gathers a wide array of people of whom a small minority is interested in research. It does not befit a scientific journal to promote itself on Facebook, to put it crassly. Right?
Everybody is on Facebook. Students especially. Scientists too. You can find a bunch of great groups, pages and people to follow and populate your wall with trivia from the world of research in psychology. Let us start with the obvious choice:
- Journal of European Psychology Students Facebook group
The JEPS group on Facebook is growing by the day. Most of you probably followed a link from it to this post in the first place – but that is not the only thing we share there. Besides regular JEPS updates, we also invite all members of the group to share interesting tidbits from the world of psychology, scientific writing, publishing and last but not least, Open Access. You can find links of everything from funny comics to serious articles criticizing the scientific publishing system straight from The Economist.
The group is open to the public, and everyone is invited to join and share. I am proud to say that it has turned into a nice little niche of research right there in the middle of all that fun and games on Facebook.
- Association for Psychological Science Facebook group
This is the official APS Facebook page, giving information about the workings of their organization as well as interesting tidbits from the world of psychology. For example, one of their last status updates (while I was writing this post) was to an article on CNN with a bombastic title “Survey: 1 in 4 users lie on Facebook”.
As it states in the short description of their site: “A fan page for all students worldwide to discuss, debate and catch up on latest developments within the field of psychology whether you are under graduate or post graduate, doing A level or Diploma.”
A page in the same vein as the previous one, only aimed at clinical psychology students.
Twitter is a great source of information on psychology. If you’re using it, this is what we suggest:
- BPS Research Digest – regular updates from the BPS journals, bringing various news about psychology
- Psychology Feeds – a compilation of RSS feeds from various psychology blogs
- JEPS on Twitter – we tweet psych news too!
- Open Access Now – not directly psychology related, but this is an RSS feed chronicling the developments of the open access movement
We have a single suggestion for G+, and that is Psychology World. It is a curated community on G+ aimed specifically at psychologists and students of psychology. In their own words: “Our goal is to centralize the best psychology content on the web for our members to read, watch, share, discuss and enjoy.” For me, this is one of the best resources on psychology out there. It is regularly updated, fresh and well-managed – I would say one of the few things that keeps me opening G+ every day.
LinkedIn is a professional social network. Basically, you create an account for yourself and it looks like your personal online CV. Then you can network with your classmates, professors and other people you meet professionally. Depending on the size of your network, it can be a great source of information, links and maybe even studying/job opportunities. It is more business-like than research oriented, but there are a great deal of academicians, scientists, other psychologists and students using it. Definitely a great way to keep in contact – and it is much better if a Google search of your name by a future employer ends up on your LinkedIn, rather than your private Facebook profile.
Academia.edu is a different site compared to the ones previously mentioned. It is created specifically for social networking of people involved and interested in research. Sharing the ideas of the open access movement, it is aimed at sharing papers, following their impact and following research in a particular field. It is (one of the) Facebooks of science out there.
ResearchGate is a social networking site that started the idea of this post in the first place. Maris shared an article about it at the previously mentioned JEPS Facebook group. The article in question discusses this new prodigy in the field of research oriented social networking. Since I didn’t have the chance to explore it myself for now, I will cite its short description from Wikipedia:
“ResearchGate is a free social networking site for scientists and researchers. It provides members with a number of tools to facilitate global scientific collaboration. Researchers can create professional profiles, discuss their work in topic specific Q&A forums, share papers, search for jobs and discover conferences in their field. A recent calculation of members showed that ResearchGate has so far assembled a user-base of over 1.4 million researchers from 192 countries.”
As a conclusion, there are many ways to network on the Internet if you are interested in research. Sharing information through these hubs, creating new connections, promoting yourself and your work and finding literature (!) is a great possibility that should not be ignored. So if you thought it was a bore and something reserved for the glitterati and the social butterflies, think again. Even science geeks like us have something to find there.
If you have any suggestions of your own, please share! We would love to add to this list of good groups, links and sites.
Ivan Flis is a graduate student of psychology at the Center for Croatian Studies at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of European Psychology Students (JEPS) and the Chair of the Right to Research Coalition Coordinating Committee for Africa, Europe and Middle East.