News from around the blogosphere

Research and Innovation Development Office

Category: Research news

14 December 2016

It's been a useful few weeks for researchers: various blogs have been giving really helpful advice on a huge range of topics. I've tried to capture some of the most interesting below.

1) Giving evidence in parliament how to make yourself known to select committees

This is part of a series of posts by the London School of Economics and Political Science blog around how academics can engage with Parliament. The whole series is fascinating, but this one in particular shows how experts can talk directly to MPs, influencing crucial debates around potential legislation. While one may be approached seemingly at random there are some ways to boost your chances:

  • sign up to committee noticeboards
  • submit evidence to committees
  • boost your social media profile, which leads nicely onto blog post two...

2) Using social media to support your research

Research Fundermentals often provides insightful posts on the different aspects of being a researcher, and tackling the challenges posed by UK funding bodies. In this post they focus on the variety of social networking tools available to researchers and the general public.

  • Twitter can be your friend, but beware! The post points out you will be interpreted as an unofficial spokesperson for your institution, and you will have to make a decision about how you split your feed between personal, professional and other content.
  • Facebook is a powerful tool for desseminating your work and for recruiting participants. However, as it's usually used on a personal level, anonymity doesn't work well and it would be treated as less professional.

The advice in the post is very useful for any researcher considering sharing their work with the public outside of the usual formal settings.

3) Why researchers should get the same client confidentiality as doctors

The Conversation draw attention here to a growing issue in social science – researchers cannot guarantee anonymity for their participants. While researchers know that they need to give subjects anonymity to enable them to talk freely, high profile research can lead to legal efforts to obtain the data, and no legal protection is granted.

The post highlights of former IRA members speaking in confidence for a study, whose evidence is now needed by the police. Another example is given of people affected by a wind farm development. A researcher conducted a study into the issues onvolved and volunteered as a witness when the affected individuals brought a law suit against the developers. This led to the researcher's raw data being granted to the developers as evidence in the case.

Detailed arguments are given in the piece to highlight the need to legally protect the anonymity of study participants in sensitive cases, akin to doctor-patient confidentiality.

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