September 8th, 2010

Rethinking Research

Andrew Wilson (whom I’ve long been a fan of) launched a social media research collaboration call just as we were packing up for the several thousand miles of fun a good West Coast road trip brings. He notes in particular

…practitioners of social media in the gov 2.0 space need to have greater awareness of the research being conducted in social media, social networking and mobile technologies.


Certainly, this is only the start of the process. Effective and substantive integration of lessons learned and best practices from the research community will be a long-term endeavor and will require numerous approaches.

If you are aware of research, please jump in to contribute! He credits me for help but all I did was connect him with Lorena O’English who truly blows my mind when it comes to Zotero. I’m still processing the wealth of information she shared with us on a webcast.

On the back burner of my mind as we drove through Washington, Oregon & California then back again (my entire family went insane at the same moment about 100 miles north of the CA/OR border) was this:

  • What exactly counts as research in these ever-changing areas of communication and technology?
  • Are there valuable perspectives in these areas that are not following traditional research methods & publication channels?
  • How do you find, promote and include them if so?

For example, the ever-helpful Disruptive Library Technology Jester documented Using Twitter For Service Outage Awareness complete with JavaScript code and CSS file very well in a blog entry that serves as an excellent case study.

What about the proceedings of conferences and symposia, such as the upcoming Health Care Innovation in the Age of Social Media?

Is research of social media considered to be of value in academia, driven by tenure, or more a nebulous type of activity? I suspect the latter since the list of what “counts” for tenure in academia is updated rather infrequently and progresses in coverage of new areas at a slothlike pace. A social media channel, such as Google Wave, could easily be started then die before a research study is put together let alone make it through the publication process. This article put into words what I’ve seen but not able to articulate well. Maybe change is on the horizon there with the similarly slothlike pace of peer review itself, as Mark MacEachern highlighted in Web-Based Peer Review.

Does social media research require new approaches since traditional research methods may not always apply when the channels, population and usage of social media is constantly changing? What do you think?

Posted at 07 28 AM | 2 Comments » | print this post

2 Responses to “Rethinking Research”

  1. Emily Keller says:

    Hi Nikki~

    I just read a blog post about a particularly meta course on social media and open education, offered through an open education model that emphasizes social media. This looks amazing…thought you might be interested too, considering your discussion:


  2. Nikki Dettmar says:

    That does look like a really cool course, and thankfully it starts as I’m wrapping up teaching my own! Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention. Were you thinking of enrolling too?

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