An exploration of mixed-methods research

What is Mixed-methods research?…. a mixture of methods? …or a multitude of methods in either one study or a succession of research?….Yes….it is a pickle.

What is mixed methods research?

I am on a learning curve (as always)…and I have been refining my understanding of mixed methods research…so what is mixed-methods research as I understand it now?

Firstly…what is a method?

I like to think of it as a recipe. Everyone knows a recipe for making a Victoria sponge…Eggs, sugar, butter, jam…and cream….But perhaps my method is different from your method..I add vanilla essence….you prefer yours with blackcurrant jam….We are both using a recipe or ‘method’ for making a Victoria sponge…

It’s just that the recipe or ‘method’ has both agreed standards… and modified versions.

Image result for victoria sponge

So…in research terms, I used to think of mixed-methods as literally a mixture of methods used in a single study….perhaps questionnaires and interviews…or a focus group and a literature review…But there are others who have defined it differently. Basically…we are actually looking at a mixture of both qualitative and quantitative research in one study/paper…Here are some other definitions below from leaders in the field..

Pat Bazeley: I tend to distinguish between mixed methods and multimethod, although if I need a generic term, I used mixed methods. Multimethod research is when different approaches or methods are used in parallel or sequence but are not integrated until inferences are being made. Mixed methods research involves the use of more than one approach to or method of design, data collection or data analysis within a single program of study, with integration of the different approaches or methods occurring during the program of study, and not just at its concluding point. Note that I am not limiting this to a combination of qualitative and quantitative research only, but more broadly, combinations of any different approaches/methods/data/analyses.


Valerie Caracelli: A mixed method study is one that planfully juxtaposes or combines methods of different types (qualitative and quantitative) to provide a more elaborated understanding of the phenomenon of interest (including its context) and, as well, to gain greater confidence in the conclusions generated by the evaluation study.


Huey Chen: Mixed methods research is a systematic integration of quantitative and qualitative methods in a single study for purposes of obtaining a fuller picture and deeper understanding of a phenomenon. Mixed methods can be integrated in such a way that qualitative and quantitative methods retain their original structures and procedures (pure form mixed methods). Alternatively, these two methods can be adapted, altered, or synthesized to fit the research and cost situations of the study (modified form mixed methods).


John Creswell: Mixed methods research is a research design (or methodology) in which the researcher collects, analyzes, and mixes (integrates or connects) both quantitative and qualitative data in a single study or a multiphase program of inquiry.


Steve Currall: Mixed methods research involves the sequential or simultaneous use of both qualitative and quantitative data collection and/or data analysis techniques.


Marvin Formosa: Mixed methods research is the utilitization of two or more different methods to meet the aims of a research project as best as one can. The research project may be conducted from either one or two paradigmatic standpoints (mixed methodology study).


Jennifer Greene: Mixed method inquiry is an approach to investigating the social world that ideally involves more than one methodological tradition and thus more than one way of knowing, along with more than one kind of technique for gathering, analyzing, and representing human phenomena, all for the purpose of better understanding.


Al Hunter: Mixed methods is a term that is usually used to designate combining qualitative and quantitative research methods in the same research project. I prefer the term multimethod research to indicate that different styles of research may be combined in the same research project. These need not be restricted to quantitative and qualitative; but may include, for example, qualitative participant observation with qualitative in-depth interviewing. Alternatively it could include quantitative survey research with quantitative experimental research. And of course it would include quantitative with qualitative styles.


Burke Johnson and Anthony Onwuegbuzie: Mixed methods research is the class of research where the researcher mixes or combines quantitative and qualitative research techniques, methods, approaches, concepts or language into a single study or set of related studies.


Udo Kelle: Mixed methods means the combination of different qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and data analysis in one empirical research project. This combination can serve for two different purposes: it can help to discover and to handle threats for validity arising from the use of qualitative or quantitative research by applying methods from the alternative methodological tradition and can thus ensure good scientific practice by enhancing the validity of methods and research findings. Or it can be used to gain a fuller picture and deeper understanding of the investigated phenomenon by relating complementary findings to each other which result from the use of methods from the different methodological traditions of qualitative and quantitative research.


Donna Mertens: Mixed methods research, when undertaken from a transformative stance, is the use of qualitative and quantitative methods that allow for the collection of data about historical and contextual factors, with special emphasis on issues of power that can influence the achievement of social justice and avoidance of oppression.


Steven Miller: Mixed methods is a form of evolving methodological inquiry, primarily directed to the human sciences, which attempts to combine in some logical order the differing techniques and procedures of quantitative, qualitative and historical approaches. At present mixed methods must devote itself to resolving a set of issues, both epistemological and ontological. The first must devote itself to what Miller and Gatta (2006) call the “epistemological link,” that is the rules and rationales which “permit” one to proceed mixed methodologically. The second must adhere to some form of “minimal realist” ontology, where either social reality is “One” but can be accessed by different methods separately or working in conjunction, or social reality is multiple in nature and can ONLY be accessed through mixed methods. Present day attempts to couch mixed methods within some broad notion of pragmatism are not satisfactory.


Janice Morse: A mixed method design is a plan for a scientifically rigorous research process comprised of a qualitative or quantitative core component that directs the theoretical drive, with qualitative or quantitative supplementary component(s). These components of the research fit together to enhance description, understanding and can either be conducted simultaneously or sequentially.


Isadore Newman: Mixed methods research is a set of procedures that should be used when integrating qualitative and quantitative procedures reflects the research question(s) better than each can independently. The combining of quantitative and qualitative methods should better inform the researcher and the effectiveness of mixed methods should be evaluated based upon how the approach enables the investigator to answer the research question(s) embedded in the purpose(s) (why the study is being conducted or is needed; the justification) of the study. (See Newman, Ridenour, Newman & DeMarco, 2003.)


Michael Q. Patton: I consider mixed methods to be inquiring into a question using different data sources and design elements in such a way as to bring different perspectives to bear in the inquiry and therefore support triangulation of the findings. In this regard, using different methods to examine different questions in the same overall study is not mixed methods.


Hallie Preskill: Mixed methods research refers to the use of data collection methods that collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Mixed methods research acknowledges that all methods have inherent biases and weaknesses; that using a mixed method approach increases the likelihood that the sum of the data collected will be richer, more meaningful, and ultimately more useful in answering the research questions.


Margarete Sandelowski: First, I think of this in terms of either a single primary research study or as a program of research. Then, I see mixed methods as something of a misnomer as mixing implies blending together. Mixed methods research, though, is more the use of different methodological approaches TOGETHER in a single study or single program of research. One cannot blend methods in the sense of assimilating one into the other. I use methods here to refer to larger inquiry approaches (e.g., experiments and grounded theory) which are themselves based in distinctive theoretical perspectives. Yet this sets up a problem too, as grounded theory, for example, can be “positivist” (a la Strauss & Corbin), “constructivist” (a la Charmaz), or “postmodern” (a la Clarke) in sensibility or influence. So, if a researcher is doing grounded theory (positivist style) and an experiment (positivist influence), are any methods actually being mixed? In other words, mixed methods research can be defined at the technique level as the combination of, e.g., purposeful & probability sampling, open-ended and closed-ended data collection techniques, and narrative and mutivariable analyses—i.e., in which anything can be used together (linked or assimilated into each other)—or it can be defined at a larger theoretical/paradigmatic level as using divergent approaches to inquiry together. I would not define mixed methods research as constituting ANY combination of 2 or more things, as any research involves the use of 2 or more of something and the use of experiment and survey is 2 things, but they are informed by one mind (typically positivist/objectivist/realist). We get tangled in words, do we not?


Lyn Shulha: By collaborative mixed method research, we will mean the purposeful application of a multiple person, multiple perspective approach to questions of research and evaluation. Decisions about how methods are combined and how analyses are conducted are grounded in the needs and emerging complexity of each project rather than in preordinate methodological conventions. . . . Within this context, methods can be “mixed” in a variety of ways. Sometimes, one method serves another in validating and explicating findings that emerge from a dominant approach. On other occasions, different methods are used for different parts of the issues being investigated, and in an independent way. In more complex cases, the methods and perspectives are deliberately mixed from the beginning of the process. The resulting interaction of problem, method, and results produce a more comprehensive, internally consistent, and ultimately, more valid general approach. What sets the most complex forms of collaborative mixed method research apart from other forms of inquiry is that findings depend as much on the researchers’ capacities to learn through joint effort and to construct joint meaning as on their expertise in conventional data collection and analysis techniques.


Abbas Tashakkori and Charles Teddlie: Mixed methods research is a type of research design in which QUAL and QUAN approaches are used in type of questions, research methods, data collection and analysis procedures, or in inferences.


Note: QUAL = qualitative research; QUAN = quantitative research

Source for quotes = Toward a Definition of Mixed Methods Research R. Burke Johnson University of South Alabama, Mobile Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie University of South Florida, Tampa Lisa A. Turner University of South Alabama, Mobile

Image result for mixed methods studies

There are also now reporting guidelines emerging for Mixed Methods studies (O’Cathain, Alicia, Elizabeth Murphy, and Jon Nicholl. “The quality of mixed methods studies in health services research.” Journal of Health Services Research & Policy 13.2 (2008): 92-98.)

Good Reporting of A Mixed Methods Study (GRAMMS)…Guidelines as follows…

(1) Describe the justification for using a mixed methods approach to the research question

(2) Describe the design in terms of the purpose, priority and sequence of methods

(3) Describe each method in terms of sampling, data collection and analysis

(4) Describe where integration has occurred, how it has occurred and who has participated in it

(5) Describe any limitation of one method associated with the present of the other method

(6) Describe any insights gained from mixing or integrating methods

Mixed methods research is more specific in that it includes the mixing of qualitative and quantitative data, methods, methodologies, and/or paradigms in a research study or set of related studies. One could argue that mixed methods research is a special case of multimethod research.


Image result for mixing bowl research

So until next time… look after yourselves & each other…then …in the words of Bob Marley…go ahead and stir it up….🎓💜🌟


Becoming the Academic Midwife on Facebook

Happy #AcademicSummer where nothing much is happening and everyone has their out of office emails switched on. Apart from writing my thesis…I found my self hopping about a little bored today…

Hunting around on the inter web and social media, I found some incredibly interesting articles on leadership in health and social care. There are so many interesting people sharing interesting things online! However, although Twitter seems to be buzzing with this academic activity, my Facebook account did seem rather lacking in the same pools of knowledge….All I managed to see were various holiday snaps.


What I share here is largely my own personal thoughts and experiences in relation to being an academic midwife…of whom there are seemingly few. I try to be informative and interesting….but whether I am or not is entirely subjective. I will carry on writing anyway.

The midwives I know tend to admire what I do but stay in the safety of Facebook (Twitter feeling far too much like work)…However I find myself wanting to unite with these midwives, and indeed this medium, which has largely been a personal space for me and my dog. Until now….

Do I want to plunge into the blue of Facebook?…hmm Twitter is blue too…What’s an academic to do?

Yes. I have decided to set up a Facebook page to share my knowledge and experience of being an academic midwife. Who knows…perhaps I will ignite the interest of others wanting to ‘do’ academia. Whats the harm…right?

Lets see how it goes 🙂 – Follow The academic Midwife on Facebook here

-> https://www.facebook.com/TheAcademicMidwife


#NewResearch published on route to supporting #NHS staff in distress

This month I have had 2 pieces of  published with 2 of my favorite co-authors…@WendyClyne1 (Senior Research Fellow; Research Development Lead; Coventry University, Coventry · Centre for Technology Enabled Health Research) &  (Medical Doctor; King’s College London, London · Department of Primary Care and Public Health Sciences).

New Research word cloud

Wendy and I asked an expert panel what should be prioritised in the development of an online intervention designed to support midwives in work-related psychological distress. We did this via the Delphi methodology, and you can see the published protocol for this research here. Overall, participants agreed that in order to effectively support midwives in work-related psychological distress, online interventions should make confidentiality and anonymity a high priority, along with 24-hour mobile access, effective moderation, an online discussion forum, and additional legal, educational, and therapeutic components. It was also agreed that midwives should be offered a simple user assessment to identify those people deemed to be at risk of either causing harm to others or experiencing harm themselves, and direct them to appropriate support. You can read this full results paper here.

As this group of experts agreed that midwives would need both confidentiality and anonymity online in order to seek and engage with effective support, Wendy, Clare and I decided to explore the ethical issues associated with these provisions. We did this by conducting a Realist Synthesis Review. You can read our full review here.

We largely argue that..

In supporting midwives online, the principles of anonymity, confidentiality and amnesty may evoke some resistance on ethical grounds. However, without offering identity protection, it may not be possible to create effective online support services for midwives. The authors of this article argue that the principles of confidentiality, anonymity and amnesty should be upheld in the pursuit of the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people.

We now call upon the wider health and social care communities to join us in a further dialogue in relation to this in pursuit of robust ethical stability…Care to join us in this?

– Comment below or make contact via this contact form:

The findings of this research will inform the development of an online intervention designed to support midwives in work-related psychological distress, and we sincerely wish to express our gratitude to all of the participants who have contributed to this project so far.

Ongoing plans include the scaling up of this project to support other health care populations to enhance the well being of staff, patients and the NHS as a whole.

The best is yet to come. Until then, take care of yourselves and each other.


Maximizing your Academic Potential Via Social Media: Part One

This week I was asked by the Research Excellence Unit at Coventry University to host a seminar on how academics can maximize their academic potential via social media as part of the wider research impact agenda…

I could not possibly cover every aspect of social media (its too huge)…

Some participants were beginners, and some were looking to expand upon what they are already good at doing…Twas a great crowd 🙂

Following this event I was going to slowly publish this seminar over a series of 6 blog posts over a few weeks…However, this event was very popular and many are asking for the slides and blog posts this week…

Also..many others could not attend but really wanted to!….and so…this seminar will be published as a few blog posts over the next week or so….Enjoy!

Many people ask the following questions:

  • How do academics use social media?
  • How can  social media be used for research?
  • How can social media be used to promote businesses?
  • How can social media be used to promote Community interest companies (CIC)?
  • How can social media be used for networking?
  • How can I use social media to promote my academic research?

You can find the entire 4 part blog series which answer these questions by clicking here

Maximizing your Academic Potential Via Social Media: Part One

By Sally Pezaro

Follow me on Twitter: @SallyPezaro


As a background…I am a midwife, academic and Social Media Ninja. My research is embedded within health and social care, with a topical focus on supporting the midwifery workforce. As such, this blog series will focus largely upon engagement within the health and social care research scene. However, many people have found this seminar easy to extrapolate to their own fields of research. I hope you do too 🙂


Social Media

Are you ready to be a Social Media Ninja?..Then I’ll begin…

Firstly, its important to know why you are using social media. What for?.. Just because this blog post says you should? (That is a good reason by the way)!

There are many reasons, and none are really wrong…but some may be better than others…and some really should be separated out from the rest.

Which reasons would you choose?

  •  – Personal reasons?
  •  – To show the world how to party?
  •  – Professional reasons?
  •  – To get another job?
  •  – Promote your research centre?
  •  – To comment on what Justin Bieber is doing this week?
  •  – Raise your academic profile?
  •  – Find and collaborate with the global research community?
  •  – To get grants
  •  – To vote for my favourite Big Brother Housemate?
  •  – Self promotion?

All are possible.. and yes…I am also keen to vote for my favourite Big Brother house contestant…But Big Brother is also watching me online, and Big Brother may be my next employer, funder or collaborator. I would rather they see my latest research output presented with a little bit of my own personality… wouldn’t you?

We all slip off the wagon sometimes (including me) – But set yourself up in the foundations of keeping your personal and professional online profiles separate.

When you create your online profile, you are projecting yourself digitally…This profile will become your online profile, so come out of your comfort zone and connect. Everything and everyone is connected online some how….This is a good thing.


As this is only a relatively short blog series, and the world of social media is huge, I will only be covering the major platforms which I see being used most productively in online.

So..As we are trying to work out who and what you want to be online…and of course define a wonderful ‘online profile’ Lets break these platforms down and see how they might be used best.. Who are YOU online?

LinkedIn: This is YOU professionally. Nothing silly, unprofessional or slanderous goes here. This place is for your professional thoughts and opinions, your online CV and forms an online advert to the world as to who you are professionally. If you do not have a LinkedIn account, people can become frustrated to find that they cannot read more about your professional work when they look for it. LinkedIn is generally the ‘go to’ place for scouting employers, collaborators and employers. You want them to see how great you are don’t you?…You wouldn’t want to frustrate any potential future leads?…OK then. Nuff said.

Facebook: This is YOU casually/socially. You can be more relaxed on Facebook. However, this does not mean that potential leads may not see what you post here. So, ensure that your privacy settings are set to your taste and try to keep this medium for family and friends….It is never a good idea to post anything that you would not want your mum or the community noticeboard to see…Think before you post.

If you do want to use Facebook professionally, it is far better to set up a professional Facebook page rather than a duplicate account. Facebook makes these pages a really receptive medium for advertising and tailored recruitment campaigns. Advertise your professional profile via these pages if you feel the need.

Social media terms

Blogging: Your blog posts show YOU as a ‘thinking being’. Again, you can be more relaxed and friendly in a blog. Depending on the purpose of the blog, you can share either personal or professional posts. Occasionally a blog can be both personal and professional….Tailor this to the audience you think your blog may attract. Also, remember not to share anything you don’t want your entire audience to see. Big Brother is watching!…More on setting up blogs later.

Twitter: This is YOU as an active part of the research community. In my experience this is the platform that proves to be most engaging for the research community. It is one of the only few places you can directly message your research hero’s… How cool is that?

It’s fast paced and has a real community feel. You may get to know others in your field online before you meet in real life, be able to collaborate at conferences, be the first to hear the latest research news and ensure that your research gets a wide viewer reach.

YouTube: This is YOU as a dynamic part of a professional team. YouTube is the worlds largest search engine and it is owned by Google. You may choose to set up your own channels and share public videos of you speaking, your lectures or promotional videos. This medium is very good for commercialising research projects along with other platforms, as you can create and share promotional videos for yourself as an academic, for your research centre or for a particular stream of research that has a particularly high profile. In my opinion, Kings College London achieves this to perfection.

Here is just one example of how YouTube may be used to promote research…I imagine that their funders might be quite happy to see this 🙂


YOU as an academic researcher also need to ensure that you have your digital imprint all over the web by connecting your work with the global community..This means using academic social platforms frequently..Such as…

  • Get yourself an Orcid ID
  • Engage with Research Gate
  • Look at your Google Scholar Profile
  • Use Repositories
  • Are you on academia.edu ??
  • Be mindful of Altmetrics
  • Use slideshare!
  • Make sure you adopt new online research directories early.

There will be more on all of this later…. Don’t panic…

This is just your online profile in a nutshell…

Help I'm in a Nutshell


Now: Before we go on…Here are a few terms and jargon you may want to refer to before you head into the social media sphere… not all of them will be used….but just in case:

  • BRB – Be Right Back
  • ASL? – Age? Sex? Location?
  • BTW – By The Way
  • CTA – Call To Action
  • DFTBA – Don’t forget to be awesome
  • GTG – Got To Go
  • IM – Instant Message
  • PM – Private Message
  • JK – Just Kidding
  • LOL – Laugh Out Loud
  • LMAO – Laughing My Ass Off
  • ROFL – Rolling On the Floor Laughing
  • YOLO – You Only Live Once
  • TBH – To Be Honest
  • IRL – In Real Life
  • TTYL – Talk To You Later
  • TLDR – Too Long Didn’t Read
  • IMHO – In My Humble Opinion
  • IMO – In My Opinion
  • YW – You’re Welcome
  • OIC – Oh I See
  • SMH – Shaking My Head
  • IDK – I Don’t Know
  • FTW – For The Win
  • HBD – Happy BirthDay

Now…you have a couple of homework tasks to get through before we go on to part 2:

  1. Decide how you want to project yourself online…What are your goals?

  2. Explore the topics and platforms I have introduced within this first blog post.

  3. Google yourself! – What do people see?….If you want them to see something else….Tune in for the rest of this blog series!


Academic on Social Media



One day you will become a Social Media Ninja. Until then, look after yourselves…and each other…




Maximizing your Academic Potential Via Social Media: Part Two

Welcome to part 2 of this blog series exploring how you might maximizing your academic potential via social media.

Many people ask the following questions:

  • How do academics use social media?
  • How can  social media be used for research?
  • How can social media be used to promote businesses?
  • How can social media be used to promote Community interest companies (CIC)?
  • How can social media be used for networking?
  • How can I use social media to promote my academic research?

You can find the entire 4 part blog series which answer these questions by clicking here

This series reflects a seminar I was asked to give at Coventry University by the research excellence unit. Enjoy.

OK, so let’s start with Twitter…. (My personal favourite)


academic twitter

The basics:

This is a fast paced micro blogging site where you have 140 characters to say something catchy about your research, a conference or a contemporary issue. It can be used both personally and professionally. However, I do not recommend mixing your personal and professional online profiles within the same account.

As you set up your profile, use a professional image for your profile picture. Your cover photo might want to reflect your current work or a campaign you feel strongly about. Your profile can have personality and be quirky, but generally, I hope you will be using this professionally….so…keep it professional? OK.

Your twitter handle or ‘identifier’ should be simple. Preferably your name rather than @sexygurly1234. In addition to this, you can also add a calling name. If you are an academic, you may want this to show your academic status….perhaps ‘Dr.Doolittle’? ‘Professor Plum’? or such like.

NOTE: Anything you do set up (Names, URL’s & academic accounts)…ensure that it has longevity.

  • For example...don’t add a date/year to anything that might change…
  • If you are going to need a (.com) at a later date, choose it sooner rather than later….
  • Are you going to change institutions?..Then be careful not to commit to anything permanent in this regard online.
  • Going to change the name of your research centre?… Then you may well loose followers when you do…so think carefully.

Chessboard thinking = Think 2 moves ahead!

People will ‘tag’ you using your Twitter handle. You should tag them back! – Twitter is very social and interactive. Tagging someone in a tweet means using the @ symbol in a tweet followed by their name @SallyPezaro. This will get their attention, and yours. You will be notified as to who has tagged who and what the conversation is. See this in the notifications tab on Twitter. You can play with your settings to set who and what you want to see. Have a play once you set up.

Also, you may want to pin a tweet. This should be your favorite tweet – perhaps you latest paper or research work? – You can change this as frequently as you like.

Here is an example where I pin a Tweet showing my latest research citation. I tagged 10 key researchers in my field to let them know of this new content and shared the link to the full article for people to explore. I also tagged the Royal College of Midwives (@MidwivesRCM) who used my research to form their new guidance on Work-related stress.

pinned tweet

Ready to set up and have a go?


Once you are set up, use and share visual content such as videos or pictures as often as you can. This is most engaging. (You can tag up to 10 people in a picture to draw their attention to it). Tag and re-tweet interesting content, and search for people you find interesting in your field. Follow them. Interact with them… Where else would you get the chance to do that?

Next, explore some hashtags to find out what conversations are happening. A hashtag (#) is a filing system which sorts out various conversations.

Interested in sandwiches? – Search for  and you will find every twitter user from around the world who likes to talk about them. Now replace  with something interesting….

When a certain hashtag is used very heavily over a short period of time, it will start ‘Trending’ – This is when content, or a conversation goes ‘Viral’…Who knows… maybe one day #SallyPezarosLatestPaper will go viral. I can but hope. When a Trend is planned, it is called a ‘ThunderClap’. In this case, many users will plan to tweet a certain Hashtag at the same time to force a trend. Fun to get involved with 🙂

Here are some hashtags to get you started:

Use them where you can in your own tweets and perhaps follow them?

MondayFunday #Mondaze #MondayMadness

#MondayMotivation #TransformationTuesday #TravelTuesday

#TuesdayTips #WednesdayWisdom #WednesdayWellness #HumpDay

#ThrowbackThursday or #TBT #ThursdayThoughts #TGIF #FridayFeeling

#FollowFriday or #FF #FollowBackFriday or #FBF #FridayReads

#Weekend #SaturdayPlans #SocialSaturday #Weekend #SundayFunday

#SundayNight #SelfieSunday #SundayBlogShare







Now..Who should you follow?

  • People you want to work with
  • People you respect
  • People you want to share work/ideas with
  • The We Communities (For healthcare).
  • The Royal Colleges
  • Key opinion leaders in your field
  • Academic Media (Times, guardian higherEd etc…)
  • National Institute of Health Research (and other key funders in your field).
  • Universities (and their relevant departments)
  • NHS, DoH etc… (Anyone who will disseminate the latest white papers)!
  • Journals you want to publish in (tag them when they do publish you!)

My personal favourites- @PhD2Published @AcademicPain @AcademiaObscura @TheLitCritGuy @AcademicsSay @GameofAcademics @HigherEdUnDead @fasttrackimpact  @AcademicBatgirl  @researchwhisper @PHDcomics @PhDForum @WriteThatPhD @academia@PhD_Connect

Don’t know what to Tweet?

Anything professional

  • Who are you going meet today? – Tag them
  • What are you working on today? – Share it
  • What was the last paper you published? – Pin it and tag those you want to read it, including the journal
  • Your opinions on hot professional topics
  • Your contributions to popular professional conversations or (Trends)
  • Your appreciation for other peoples work you admire
  • Your celebratory comments to colleagues
  • Reciprocal congratulatory tweets
  • Everything about key conferences using the conference hashtag (photos and quotes)!
  • Share and ‘like’ other things you like or want to promote

Twitter is most useful for academic networking during conference season….

Conference will (or should) provide a conference hashtag. Use it to follow the conversation, find out who else is going and join in! Tag and follow those you want to network with. Let them know you will be there..ask to join them in a coffee break.

Be bold.

Other people will be watching the conference hashtag even though they are not in attendance at the conference. Tweet some quotes and pictures of them… share the learnings. Reflect and build the community.

Here is an example:

twitter confereces

Lastly, I wanted to draw your attention to the benefits of community and shared learning on Twitter. The We Communities are a great way to connect with other health care groups and professionals..They really embrace research and collaborations with academics. They also host regular chats using various hashtags which are great to learn from and engage with…

We communities

If none of these chats take your fancy, why not try looking at the Healthcare Hashtag project, which catalogs a wider range of healthcare discussion topics.

Healthcare Hashtag project

Looking to join an online school or Journal club on Twitter? The School for Health and Social Care radicals is a great way to get started…


I do apologise that these tips largely relate to the health and social care communities…As I find new information on other Twitter fields I will share….It just so happens that this is my professional field in particular.

If you have other suggestions please share them in the comments section below…

As this blog series continues, we can explore how Twitter can be used for research purposes…In the next post we can look at other social media platforms and relate them all back to how we might use them for research and for academic promotion.

For now, I hope you have found this post on Twitter for academics useful….

Homework for next time:

  • Set up your Twitter account
  • Start Tweeting, following, sharing and connecting
  • Let me know how you get on

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other.

Academic on Social Media


Maximizing your Academic Potential Via Social Media: Part Three

Welcome to part 3 of how to maximise your academic potential via social media. This blog series summarises a seminar I was asked to give by the research excellence unit at Coventry University.

Many people ask the following questions:

  • How do academics use social media?
  • How can  social media be used for research?
  • How can social media be used to promote businesses?
  • How can social media be used to promote Community interest companies (CIC)?
  • How can social media be used for networking?
  • How can I use social media to promote my academic research?

You can find the entire 4 part blog series which answer these questions by clicking here

Hopefully you will either be setting up and using your social media accounts by now, or you will already have your social media accounts set up and ready to go.

If not, here is another user friendly guide on how to do so..


So before we go any further, it is probably a good idea to discuss ‘netiquette’ i.e. the etiquette of online behaviour. The ‘do’s and don’ts’ online….Here are some simple rules:

  • Be human and remember the human behind the screen
  • Stay away from the negative, even if things get unpleasant, try to diffuse the situation or walk away (digitally).
  • Nurture a culture of reciprocal support and celebration as you congratulate those who achieve (including yourself)!
  • Respect others’ privacy, confidentiality and anonymity
  • Remember that real world codes and laws still apply online
  • Be forgiving of others mistakes (and your own)!

OK, so now we have explored Twitter, lets go on to the others in brief…



Facebook is slower paced, and in my opinion, is best used for casual friends and family use. Remember, it is still important to remain professional in any case. Big Brother could always be watching!

That doesn’t mean that Facebook cannot be used professionally. I’m sure your friends and family (perhaps a few colleagues) would love to know about your achievements as well as how you are enjoying a pub lunch with your dog.

More importantly, I think Facebook can be great for recruitment strategies in research. This is because you can pay for very effected and extremely targeted advertising if you know how. This means that if you want to study elite athletes who practice Nordic walking for instance…Facebook will know where they are and target your advert directly at them.. Clever huh? (Or a little scary!)..

You can also follow large scientific groups and pages who will sometimes want to promote your work (if you talk nicely to them)! The British Psychological Society have been particularly helpful for me and my work on Facebook.

Facebook is also great for commercialising or monitising your research ideas should you want to move your project into becoming a business or Community Interest Company (CIC). This is because Facebook enables you to set up business, personal or front facing pages. These pages are separate to your account (no need to set up a new account for a new business). These pages work really well as stand alone websites, as you can download apps to them to suit your needs and even sell from them.

See my academic Facebook page here -> THE ACADEMIC MIDWIFE

Trending and hash-tagging features are still available on Facebook so don’t forget to use them!

you tube


YouTube is the largest search engine and is owned by Google, therefore the usual Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) rules apply. (More on that later).

This platform is great for generating viral and visual contest. Videos.

Once you set up your YouTube ‘channel’ you can link it to Google plus and share the content easily and quickly with others to achieve maximum reach. This can be a personal channel where you upload your interview, lecture and promotional research videos. Or it can be great for a research centre looking to promote their work collectively.

There are many innovative ways academics can attract some positive attention online: Be creative!




Quite simply, this is your online CV. In my experience, it is where potential collaborators, funders and employers will go to find out more about you….So it can be frustrating if your profile is absent, out of date, or incomplete.

You can also engage in professional discussion and blog directly onto the LinkedIn platform. this can be useful for getting your thoughts known, especially if you join groups or follow organisations with shared interests.

Here are some top tips for LinkedIn

  • It is your online CV
  • Keep everything very professional
  • Keep it up to date
  • Use professional images and photos
  • Celebrate the achievements of yourself & others
  • Connect with people & shared interests
  • Add your papers, grants, honours and awards.
  • Join in group conversations
  • Blog more professionally on Linkedin
  • Create groups and company pages
  • Check out advertised jobs
  • Be found by recruitment agents (by using strategic key words).
  • Let people ‘Scout you out’ at conferences
  • Scout others out who you want to connect with
  • Professional sharing only!

Now, there are other social media such as Google plus, instagram, snapchat and Pinterest etc…However, I have found these less useful in research. This is unless of course you are wanting to conduct research via these social media?

However, I would create a google plus account if only to link your YouTube account into this platform and share things for the benefit of Google. Google decides what to show and what not to show, and so with everything you write, you need to think about what people will search for if they are trying to find you and your work. With this in mind, use keywords to ‘maximise your academic potential via social media’.


This is what Google (and other search engines) will look for:

  • Unique names come out on top
  • The volume of incoming links from related websites
  • Time within website
  • Page titles
  • Quality of content
  • Relevance
  • Page descriptions
  • Quantity of content
  • Technical precision of source code
  • Volume and consistency of searches
  • Spelling
  • Page views
  • Revisits
  • Click-throughs
  • Technical user-features
  • Uniqueness
  • Regularity of updated content (like news, weather or a regulary updated Twitter feed)
  • Functional vs broken hyperlinks

Lastly, I wanted to talk about Blogging:


This is where you can share your learnings, knowledge, thoughts and ideas fairly casually as I am doing now. As you will see on my blog, everything is interlinked, as people can arrive here and see my other social media channels and connect with me. I also make it very easy for people to share and comment on what I post.

I am sharing my research journey. Everything I publish on here is automatically shared on all of my other channels, because I have set it up this way to avoid duplication (working smart)! I also recruit my participants from here, share my papers and conference talks. I reflect on things I have seen and done. This is a great way to absorb what I have experienced and can also be very therapeutic in some cases.

I would highly recommend blogging your research journey and keeping people posting on what you are doing throughout your academic career. For this reason it is important to choose a unique and catchy title for your blog which will capture the nature of your work on a long term basis (You don’t want to start all over again because that specific part of your research ended and you named your blog ‘MyLiteratureReview.com’).

There are all types of blogging platforms to choose from:

As you can see, I use word press because I find it easier to connect with other blogs. You can also make your page here as snazzy or as simple as you like. You can also upgrade at any time (this blog is free).

Top Tips on Blogging:

  • Share your professional thoughts values and opinions
  • Build a picture of ‘Who you are’
  • A hub to link others to your other profiles
  • A place to share your work
  • Reflect on conferences/events
  • Reply to the public
  • Document your academic journey
  • Create community debate
  • Add your blog to an academic blog directory
  • Connect blogs together within organisations
  • No more than 1000 words (ish) per post weekly/monthly – Keep it consistent!
  • Interact with other blogs and join the conversation
  • Stay positive & professional (even if you get negative responses)!
  • Never release research before publication!
  • Think of Google and SEO! (avoid jargon)
  • Have ever changing content (Twitter feed/news/weather)
  • Think about your audience & who will engage
  • Connect everything together in a ‘hub’
  • Use social media to share and promote your blog (Use hashtags too!)
  • Use visuals, quotes, slide shares, hyperlinks, videos and engaging content

So, That’s it for part 3 of this blog series. There will be one more part to this blog series where I will take you through a few things on how to use social media for research and academic promotion. Until then, why not start to build your social media empire?

You are nearly qualified as a Social Media Ninja!


Until next time, look after yourselves, and each other.




Maximizing your Academic Potential Via Social Media: Part Four

Welcome. This is the final part of a 4 part blog series designed to help academics to maximize their professional potential via social media.

Many people ask the following questions:

  • How do academics use social media?
  • How can  social media be used for research?
  • How can social media be used to promote businesses?
  • How can social media be used to promote Community interest companies (CIC)?
  • How can social media be used for networking?
  • How can I use social media to promote my academic research?

You can find the entire 4 part blog series which answer these questions by clicking here

This blog series reflects a seminar I was asked to give by the Research Excellence unit at Coventry University. I hope you find it useful 🙂

How do we relate social media to academia?

Ok, so we have largely gone through how to set up social media accounts and use them for the purpose of promoting our academic ‘selves’… But how does this relate more specifically to academia?

Here are some academic platforms which all academics should embrace.. we touched upon these earlier:

  • Orcid ID’s
  • Research gate
  • Google Scholar Profiles
  • Repositories
  • academia.edu
  • Altmetrics
  • Slidshare

The social media data you collect can be used in grant applications and impact studies

I would also recommend the early adoption of new online research directories. It can’t really hurt to jump on board early, and you may get ‘found’ or ‘discovered’ before anyone else!

Google yourself! – This is what future funders, employers and collaborators will see –  What comes up first? Don’t like it?… Then optimise your online presence to project the best possible ‘YOU’.

Academic on Social Media

Once you are optimised, you might be interested in tracking your success. Altmetrics is growing fast as a tool and platform with which to track the success and reach of certain papers.

The Altmetric score for a research output provides an indicator of the amount of attention that it has received.

The score is derived from an automated algorithm, and represents a weighted count of the amount of attention we’ve picked up for a research output. Why is it weighted? To reflect the relative reach of each type of source. It’s easy to imagine that the average newspaper story is more likely to bring attention to the research output than the average tweet.

This is reflected in the default weightings:









Sina Weibo




Policy Documents (per source)












A more detailed description of how Altmetrics works can be found here.

For a live example of how Altmetric works, here is an example from one of my recent papers. I can see who, where and how people have accessed and shared my paper. For this paper so far, Altmetric has seen 70 tweets from 52 users, with an upper bound of 86,999 followers.


Altmetrics page

This Altmetric score can only grow

->  Check out the updated progress of this paper right now by clicking here

Now imagine if your whole research centre was active on social media, they each had 1000 (relevant) followers and everybody shared each others work in a celebratory way!….How far could your reach spread?

Below, you will see the papers with the highest Altmetric scoring…Within these articles so far, Altmetric has seen 2467 tweets from 2308 users, with an upper bound of 5,064,475 followers.

Double Wow!

top altmetric papers

Check out the latest top 100 Altmetric articles here

How to increase your Altmetric score:

The Altmetric scores will always follow the interactions made with your article, and the reach and spread of its URL link. So make sure you use this link wherever you can

It usually looks like this: http://www.womenandbirth.org/article/S1871-5192(15)00326-1/abstract

  • Now that you run a blog (after reading this blog series of course you will right?) add a post about your article.
  • As your contacts to blog about and share your paper
  • Ask your press office of institution to promote the link of the article in news stories (and everywhere really).
  • Tweet about your paper (more than once!) – Try pinning it to your profile page with an image and tag people who might be interested to ready and share it.
  • Start a discussion about your paper and invite people to comment online.
  • Highlight your paper at conference, raise its profile and ask people to share it online. Make this easy for them by connecting with them and tagging them.
  • Promote reciprocal sharing where you share and celebrate the work of your colleagues in return (You scratch my back I’ll scratch yours)!
  • Share your work with fellow academics on Mendeley
  • Take a look at Wiley’s Journal Author Promotional Toolkit.

Health Research via Social Media

As you will know, I am a midwife by background and my work largely focuses upon workforce issues, health and well being. Therefore, this section will introduce you to some cool work being done via social media in the health and social care fields. I hope you can extrapolate this to your own work…

There is much to talk about, so I consolidate some of this section here:

These are some groovy ways to use social media huh?

I myself have used social media and this blog to recruit participants for my own Delphi study research… See the summary of this recruitment strategy below…Paper protocol here.

Multimedia Appendix 1 - Social media engagement and recruitment summary.

More recently, I have been involved with a research study on Twitter. This study was designed to explore what  for healthcare staff This was done with a vision of helping healthcare organisations to become more compassionate towards their staff. See info here. See metrics here. I will be promoting the results of this study within this blog, once the paper is published of course!


And so last but not least, it is time to leave you with a few of my top tips before I send you out of this social media nest to fly out on your own as social media ninjas. Unfortunately I of course have not been able to cover everything about social media and its academic uses within this blog series. Nevertheless I hope you have found this introduction useful.

I would be very happy help you or your organisation, so please do contact me via the contact pages of this blog if you wish to talk further.

Social media is one of my many passions, and I really do think it has great potential to achieve so many things. Lets all maximise our potential together by lifting each other up and supporting one another to achieve wonderful things.

be unique

Final Top Tips

  • Be wary of changing your brand (Think 2 steps ahead)
  • Stay away from the negative –> follow the positive
  • Be consistent, human, reflective, sharing, collaborative, brave!
  • Use Bitly– Condenses long URLs to make them easier to share – Also generates stats.
  • Never use Social Media whilst drunk!
  • Think of spellings – American or English? Who are you trying to attract? Going global?
  • Exploit your email signature (Add your social media links etc for imprints online).
  • Exploit your presentation slides (Add your social media links to them)
  • Use photos on Twitter (tag up to 10 people in them)!
  • Treat everything you post as public – Think before you post!
  • Respect Google and other search engines
  • Join blogging directories (or create one?)
  • Join online communities (or create one?)
  • Follow and engage with key influencers in your field
  • Explore HOOTSUITE! (This allows you to schedule your outgoing content to save time)
  • KEEP ACTIVE – 10 minutes a day goes a long way 🙂


The Last Word

When people are looking down at their mobile devices, they may actually be online looking directly at you….What do you want them to see?

Be fabulous

Thank you for reading this blog. If you found it helpful please share it with others!

Follow me on Twitter: @SallyPezaro


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