Medical Research, Recruitment & Social Media
By Parminder Basran (@Psbasran)
Whether your department head, daughter, or doctor – like it or not – social media is here. Sooner or later you will learn about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ (or whatever). Some of you beyond a certain vintage may lament over your pre-internet brain (to steal a phrase from Douglas Copeland). But if you’re involved in healthcare and play some role in research, you should take pulse on Social Media in the Medical Sciences.
While not early adopters, medical researchers in public and private institutions are becoming more engaged with the social media and its utility in medical research. And while quality peer-reviewed open access journals have provided a means of disseminating research, scientists still struggle with finding the right avenue, separating the need to diseminate research with the need for publishing in ‘high impact’ papers, and making their research more accessible to the public.
Social Media Tools for Research
Within the confines of the academic medical community, can social media be used as a tool for research? Over the last 5 years, there has been an explosion in the types of tools and software that can be used to connect researchers among and outside disciplines. And as much as I’d love to see lynx and traditional mailing lists continue, the fact is that that they have limitations. Can social media fill that void?
In addition to Twitter and Facebook, tools such as LinkedIn, ResearchGate, GoogleScholar, Mendeley, and a host of others can provide opportunities to share data, communicate through forums, and rate and comment on articles. Indeed, it brings forth an interesting question on how medical research can be judged. (For example, a recent #hcsmca discussion challenges the notion traditional publications methods with the question : Is Academic Research a Dead Man Walking?)
But while these tools may hold value, time is precious, particularly in the field of medical research. So there has to be some evidence of a significant benefit if choosing to invest in the exploration of social media tools, and that benefit must extend well beyond from those gained from traditional research methods. Social media aggregators and digests show some promise in this regard: such as public tools like Flipboard that can amass a variety of social media channels into a single graphical interface, to ones directed squarely for professional medical organization like Sosido, that can digest scientific information for healthcare professionals in a variety of invasive and non-invasive ways.
Social Media Tools for Outreach
There are some great examples how organizations are using social media for sharing medical research to the general public. But what about individual researchers? A recent PLOS article explored how biologists and physicists view ‘outreach’. In the United States, about 5% of academic researchers are involved in some type of outreach. And of those, there may be some evidence that those 5% are more successful researchers. Whether the two are correlative is interesting, but whether there a causal link is much more interesting. The metric of ‘success’ is certainly up for debate.
But again, time is precious: it is the biggest barrier for any medical researcher. Just this week, our centre had a few illnesses, rendering my plans to strap down finish up writing a few lingering papers impossible.
Remember that time, when everyone gets sick, and you’re @ work hoping to finishing writing those 3 papers this week? Yeah
— Parminder S. Basran (@Psbasran) March 9, 2015
Is it worth the effort to explore and expand the use of social media tools for the medical researcher? Probably. So where can I get the biggest bang for my buck?
On March 18 at 10am PT (1pm ET) week’s #hcsmca chat we explore the relationships between social media, medical research, and the researcher.
Our first question explores the impact social media has, and continues to make, on medical research.
- T1a: Generally, has social media positively –or negatively- impacted medical research?
- T1b: Are there examples of how social media has positively/negatively impacted medical research?
Second, we ask how medical researchers are using social media.
- T2a: How are medical researchers using social media for their research from discover, recruitment to dissemination?
- T2b: Have you ever discovered clinical trials or been recruited for research participation via social media?
Third, we delve into the specific tools they might use in their social media.
- T3a: What social media tools are most prevalent in medical research?
- T3b: What social media tools are most prevalent in outreach?
This post was originally posted on Parminder Basran’s blog Medphyz and republished here with permission of the author.
Read the March 18 transcript.