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Social Media in 2017, Not much change, but lots of progress

Last week I attended the MRS Social Media Summit in London, and was struck by something that at first seems to be a contradiction – not much change over the last seven years, but lots of progress. Not much change! Back in 2010, I published The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research. Nothing presented at the Summit was fundamentally different from the picture in 2010, in terms of the aims of the tools, the range of approaches adopted etc. Lots of progress! Compared with 2010, researchers and research users are much better at using social media in a research context, in particular using blended techniques that use social media in conjunction with other approaches. Social media hasn’t changed, it has simply got better. Key Themes from the Summit The one day MRS Summit, well curated and chaired by Marc Brenner, provided several interesting themes and lessons for research providers and users alike, including: Blended research is often the key to success Social media is more than just Twitter WOM is more than just Social Media The human element is still essential Blended Research The main theme of the day was the benefit of blending social media research with other […]

Discovery: a new tool for accessing longitudinal cohort studies

Are you interested in longitudinal data? For example, The Hertfordshire Cohort Study (following 3000 men and women since they were born in the 1930s), or the British Cohort Study (17,000 people born in a single week in 1970). If so, you will be aware of the problems such as: knowing what data is available, what questions were asked, and where is the data stored. Discovery is a new tool (still in a relatively early stage of development) from CLOSER, that makes eight longitudinal studies more accessible. Please try it, please leave your feedback. Where are the variables I am interested in? Perhaps the best way to understand the usefulness and power of Discovery is an example based on finding variables of interest. The image below shows the home page of Discovery, and it shows that the eight studies include over 55,000 variables [note, if you click on the images they should enlarge]. With so many variables, nobody wants to scroll through them all to find items that are useful to their project or query. By clicking on Variables we can filter the list by Study, Life Stage and Topic, as in the image below. In this example, let’s assume we are […]