Social media and research


Increasingly, social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, are being used by researchers to recruit survey participants, disseminate findings, and/or network with other researchers. While it may seem like simply a trend, these social media tools are already impacting how researchers communicate and collaborate.

We’ve collected several resources and manuals for researchers, both academic and community-based, that provide some guidance to this evolving area. As with all resources, you’ll need to approach them from the lens of your work and make your own assessment as to whether they will be useful for you.

Infographics are also a new information dissemination tool that are increasingly used to translate research findings. Click on the image to see the source.

Infographics are also a popular information dissemination tool that are increasingly used to translate research findings. Click on the image to see the source. Additional infographics can be seen here.

Check out PAN’s Social Media Guidelines.



  • Demographics of Social Media Users (2016) – Ever wonder who actually uses social media? This survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project provides an overview of who is using social media, including a breakdown by social media service.



  • Social Media: A Guide for Researchers (2011) – This guide was produced by the International Centre for Guidance Studies and aims to provide the information needed to make an informed decision about using social media and select from the vast range of tools that are available.
  • Handbook of Social Media for Researchers and Supervisors (2012) – The goal of this handbook, which was published by  The Open University and Vitae Innovate, is to assist researchers and their supervisors to adopt and use social media tools in the service of their research, and, in particular, in engaging in the discourse of research. The handbook presents an innovative suite of resources for developing and maintaining a social media strategy for research dialogues.
  • Using Twitter in university research, teaching and impact activities: A guide for academics and researchers (2011) – The London School of Economics’ Public Policy Group’s a short guide that shows new users how to get started on Twitter and hone their tweeting style, as well as offering advice to more experienced users on how to use Twitter for research projects, alongside blogging, and for use in teaching.
  • Newcastle University social media for research – An online guide explaining how different social media tool can help at all stages in the academic research process. This guide covers blogging, wikis/collaborative editing, twitter, networking and sharing, sound and vision, and RSS, widgets, and other tools. This guide uses a showcase interface (much like Pintrest) that provides numerous links to external resources — click on the tabs along the top of the page to go to each section.



  • Going solo or joining someone else’s show: Multi-author blogs as a way to maximise your time and exposure (Feb 18, 2013) – With the practice of academic blogging becoming increasingly mainstream, it is important to emphasise the diversity of blog formats out there, from personal blogs to multi-author blogs run by institutions or around certain themes. In this post on the London School of Economic’s award winning knowledge translation blog, Alex Marsh discusses the differences and finds that the commitment of time and energy associated with an individual blog can be enough to deter some people and that a good way to ease into a new blogging routine is by making occasional contributions to a multi-author blog.
  • The terror of tweeting: social medium or academic message? (February 5, 2013) – In this article on The Guardian’s Higher Education Network blog, Claire Warwick explores how the mismatch between some academics and social media is not so much fear of technology, but concerns over losing control. She suggests sparing them the beginner’s guide because over simplified advice on how to communicate their research may simply insult them.



  • OHTN Rapid Review: Social Media & HIV (2010) – A rapid review conducted by the Ontario HIV Treatment Network on the use of social media by AIDS Service Organizations, through the lens of the following question: “How has social media been used in the HIV/AIDS sector and with what impact?”