On Wednesday 9 April 2014 we will be holding our next Social Scholar seminar (in room 243, Senate House). This week we will be looking at the Guardian newspapers’ Higher Education Network through the eyes of community journalist Claire Shaw (@clurshaw). For full details of this event check out the SAS Events web page or RSVP via Eventbrite to attend.

The Social Scholar seminar is FREE and open to all. Follow us on Twitter @SASNews using the hashtag #socialscholar.


Academics are now urged to blog and use social media. Why? Because it’s believed to be a valuable part of the wider ecology of scholarship. It increases potential for public engagement, outreach opportunities and can be used as a way to measure research impact. More and more academics are harnessing the power of social media: over the past year and a half working on the Guardian Higher Education Network, I’ve seen our community of Twitter followers grow from 15k to 63k. In this session, I will provide a guide for academics on how to blog and use social media in the most effective way – and get your work noticed.

As usual we asked our speaker to answer a few questions for us. This is what Claire Shaw had to say.


Hello Claire, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I graduated from a master’s in journalism in 2012. During that year I freelanced for the Times Educational Supplement, writing news and feature articles. I chose to specialise in education early on, which pretty much got me to where I am now. I found this area exciting, challenging and full of potential. I then worked at CNN for a short while on their special projects section before joining the Guardian in November 2012. I’ve particularly enjoyed growing our engaged higher education community and getting to know what makes them tick.

Why do you think Social Media is useful?

It’s just another way of communicating and connecting with other people outside of your institution. It’s a way to share and talk about your research in an informal setting, engage in debate, and perhaps more importantly, pick up on gossip! It shouldn’t be a chore. You get out of it what you put in.

What can we expect from you at the Social Scholar?

Many guides have been written for academics about how to tweet, which are pretty basic and their tone a little patronising. I hope to offer something more nuanced, by focusing on how to engage in debate and get your work noticed. I’m interested to know why you use social media and what you want to get out of using it. I’ll suggest some useful handles and hashtags to follow as well as share media insight into how I use and engage with the academic community on social media. I’ll also chat about academic blogging; the dos and don’ts – and how to get your blog post published on the Guardian.

Do you think blogging is a useful pursuit for academics and why?

New research shows that academics blog for their professional peers, rather than for public outreach, and that blogging functions more like a global virtual common room. On the Higher Education Network, I think academics blog to both get feedback from their critical peers and inform a wider audience. What has become more apparent is the impact a blog can have on the individuals who work in higher education. A recent blog post about there being a culture of acceptance around mental health issues in academic went viral (shared over 62k times on Facebook), and sparked debates worldwide. Our new Academics Anonymous series is a good example of why academics blog.


Full details of this event can be found on the SAS events system. The Social Scholar is a FREE event held by the School of Advanced Study every month. Please also follow us on Twitter @SASNews hashtag #socialscholar. Please RSVP via Eventbrite

Image: Claire Shaw (the Guardian)