the presentation

Social media, the Internet and its
potential for medical research
and education
Keynote Speech
Clinical Academic Trainees’ Conference 2013
Professor Alan Eardley
Professor of Enterprise Computing
School of Computing
Staffordshire University
Purpose of the keynote speech
• To promote discussion and debate on the role
use of social media in medical education
After all, if fights break out, there will be a doctor
in the house...
• To introduce you to some people who are central
to moving forward this debate
And most of them use Facebook, blogs and
Twitter...and do ‘selfies’
• To relate some academic theory to practice and
introduce some research resources
Social media and
medical research and education
This could be the shortest presentation ever...
we could say:
“Get off Facebook and Twitter... and read
‘the Pocket Tutor book of Surface Anatomy’ by
Richard Tunstall and Nehal Shah... or
‘Grant's Atlas of Anatomy’ edited by Anne Agur
and Arthur Dalley”...
or some of the other BMA award winning medical
books – but would we be missing something?
Such as the potential of social media to
revolutionise medical education, perhaps?
What is the potential
of social media?
• Is social media just for social purposes?
• What academic research is there examining the use
of social media in these areas?
• What examples of social media applications are there
in medical research and education?
Social media...for social purposes?
Some arguments against the value of social media in
medical research and education
• Anonymity of information = lack of authority
• Excessive triviality inherent in the media
• Lacks peer review processes and material
• Implies complicated ethical issues
• Time consuming and complex in use
• Need to ‘keep up to speed’ with the technology
What do the search analytics say?
And what about academic research and practice?
US Facebook & Twitter searches 2013
(according to Azntaiji Multimedia and SocialRadius )
But...definitions of ‘social media’
• Social media is an online environment opened for the purposes of mass
collaboration, where all invited participants can create, post, rate,
enhance, discover, consume, and share content without a direct
intermediary (Bradley and McDonald, 2011)
Note the phrases ‘mass collaboration’ and ‘without a direct intermediary’
• ‘The means of interactions among people in which they create, share,
and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and
networks’. (Alquist et al. 2008)
Take out the word ‘virtual’ and what do we have?
• ‘A group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and
technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and
exchange of user-generated content (Kaplan and Haenlein 2010)
What ‘ideological and technical foundations’ in medical research?
What type of medical content is being created and exchanged?
More on the definitions
related to research
• A virtual community may be defined as ...“a group of people that
primarily interact through media such as newsletters, telephone,
email, internet social networks and instant messaging rather than
face to face”. (
• Public engagement describes how researchers connect and share
their work with the public to build trust, understanding and
collaboration, and increase the relevance and impact of research
on society. (
• Mass collaboration is enabled by and conducted through social
media. It involves people who may not otherwise have had a preexisting relationship, quickly and effectively contributing to and
giving feedback on the development of an idea, artefact, process,
plan. (
This sound more promising!
The social media technology... in fact a combination of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0
Web 1.0
Web 2.0
Britannica Online 
personal websites 
blogs and tweets
publishing 
directories (taxonomy) 
site ‘stickiness’ 
static information 
tagging (‘folksonomy’)
content syndication
dynamic applications
Adapted from O’Reilly, Tim. ‘What Is Web 2.0?’
Social media characteristics
• The WWW as the platform
• ‘WWW vs. MS Windows’
• Applications harnessing collective intelligence
• ‘The wisdom of crowds’ and ‘the global brain’
• Software as a service, not a product
• Evolutionary development and continuous testing
– Software above the level of a single device (BYOD)
– User generated/controlled content
– Richer user experiences/involvement
An example:
You need to find out about iodine deficiency - ‘the single
greatest preventable cause of mental retardation, is an
important public health problem’ (WHO *)
Sources you could use for reference
• NHS Choices (Web 1.0)?
• Wikipedia (Web2.0)?
• An old UK medical textbook?
• Medical blog or forum?
• A curated special interest site such as
*The Lancet (12 July 2008). ‘Iodine deficiency — way to go yet’. 372 (9633):88.
NHS Choices - Web 1.0
• Presented as news; ‘Where did the story come from?’
– What is the target audience?
• References/citations
– 4 to newspaper articles
– 2 to research and peer-reviewed article (ALPAC & Lancet)
• ‘Useful Links’
– To other NHS Choices sites (relevance?)
• No ‘symptoms, diagnosis, epidemiology or treatment...’
• Authorship
– ‘Analysis by Bazian’, ‘Edited by NHS Choices’
• Timeliness
– Last update ‘Wednesday May 22 2013’
Wikipedia - Web 2.0
• Presented as evidence-based medical facts and advice
• References/citations
– 22 to peer-reviewed articles/UNICEF/WHO publications
– Wikipedia is asking for ‘more citations for verification’
• ‘Useful Links’
– 4 external links to relevant sites etc.
– Many ‘hot links’ to other Wikipedia entries
• Includes information on risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis,
epidemiology and treatment etc.
• Authorship unknown
• Timeliness
– Last update 21st October 2013
– Possibility of continuous update through editing
What about the other sources?
What are the factors ‘for and against’?
• The old UK medical textbook
• A medical blog or forum
• A curated special interest site such as
Academic research
Now for the boring
but important bit,
the underpinning
academic research...
Paper: ‘Social media and health education:
what the early literature says’ (JDE)
• Accelerates information sharing and speeds the
transformation of one-way monologues into
collaborative dialogues
• Democratises and spreads knowledge widely and
accesses more diverse perspectives
• Helps to form and knit together communities of practice
• Encourages greater openness and transparency
• Stimulates collaborative knowledge building and
reduces the cost of participation and co-ordination of
resources and actions
Gorham, R. Carter, L. Nowrouzi, B. McLean, N. and Guimond, M. (2012) Social Media
and Health Education: What the Early Literature Says. Journal of Distance Education. 26(2)
The Vitae project (OU)
The Vitae Innovate social media in education project
• Surveyed 105+ researchers in UK, USA, Europe & Australia
• Used mailing lists, discussion forums, blogs, Twitter, etc.
Main contribution of the research:
• Stages of the research process at which social media is used
• Types of use of social media in medical research
• The social media technologies and applications that are used
The findings are summarised (very) briefly in the following slides
It is worth reading the Handbook in detail.
Handbook for social media for researchers and supervisors.
Minocha, A. and Petre, M. Centre for Research in Computing, OU.
Types of use of social
media in research
• Formal research contact (e.g. with supervisors)
• Informal research contact (e.g. with other researchers
and advisors)
• Document authoring, storage and exchange
• Carrying out the research process (e.g. developing and
reflecting on research ideas)
• Engaging with the research community (i.e. ‘keeping in
• Maintaining research currency (i.e. ‘keeping up to date’)
Handbook for social media for researchers and supervisors.
Minocha, A. and Petre, M. Centre for Research in Computing, Open University.
Examples of social media
The really useful bit:
examples of social media
used in research
Formal research contact
Handbook for social media for researchers and supervisors.
• E-mail and attachments
– e.g. Outlook, GMail, Yahoo
• Audio/video conferencing
– e.g. GoogleChat (audio)
– e.g. Skype, Audacity, Vroom (with BB), Scopia, Flash Meeting
• Collaborative working
– e.g. BlackBoard Collaborate, Moodle
• Wiki software
– e.g. MediaWiki, Wikispaces
• Virtual working
– e.g. Second Life
Informal research contact
Handbook for social media for researchers and supervisors
• Dialogue/messaging
– e.g. SMS, Twitter (see
– e.g. Ning, LinkedIn, Facebook
• Blogs
– e.g. Wordpress, Blogger
• Discussion forums
– e.g. (previously DocCom), LinkedIn
• Self-developed group or team Wiki
– e.g. MoinMoin wiki engine
• Meetings
– e.g. Flashmeeting
Document authoring,
storage and exchange
These tools have some collaborative capability
• Document authoring
– e.g. Googledocs, Webworks e-publisher
• Content storage and management
– e.g. Drupal, Dropbox
• Document organising and referencing
– e.g. Mendeley, iPapers
• Curating
– e.g.,,
Carrying out the
research process
• Secondary research
– e.g. Google Scholar
• Thought development
– e.g. Mindgenius, Wordle
• Working together
– e.g. BrainKeeper, LinkedIn
• Many researchers were supported by their
institutions’ VLEs
Minocha, A. and Petre, M. (2012)
Handbook for social media for researchers and supervisors.
Centre for Research in Computing, OU.
Engaging with the
research community
• Bookmarking
– e.g. Delicous, Diigo
• Networking
– Facebook, LinkedIn,
• Virtual meetings
– Second Life
• Sharing material
– Youtube, Slideshare, Prezi
Maintaining research currency
• Following/alerts
– e.g. Twitter, Zetoc, RSS feeds
• Mailing lists/forums
– e.g. Netvibes,
• Content
– e.g. Ted Talks, Youtube, Google Reader
Other useful Vitae handbook contents...
Useful Vitae handbook contents
Guidelines for digital professionalism
Comprehensive list of social media resources
Advice on intellectual property rights
Summary of ethical issues
The Vitae Researcher Development Framework
Handbook of social media for researchers and supervisors.
Vitae Innovate project. Centre for Research in Computing, OU. 2012.
People worth following...
• Curators on . #FOAMed (Free Open Access Medical Education)
– Natalie Lafferty, University of Dundee (NLafferty)
– Analisa Manca, University of Dundee (Annalisa Manca)
– Dr Laura Jane Smith, UCL (
• Social Media in Medical Education: The Debate at the University of
Leicester Medical School. 26/6/2013.
– Dr Damian Roland
– Dr Rakesh Patel
• Handbook of social media for researchers and supervisors. Vitae project.
– Dr. Shailey Minocha
– Professor Marian Petre
Centre for Research in Computing, OU. 2012.
Some online resources
BMA. Using social media: practical and ethical guidance for doctors
and medical students
GMC Doctors’ use of social media
British Psychological Society guidance on the use of social media
Doctors 2.0 ™ and You’ conference (June 5-6 2014, Paris)
– ‘For junior doctors by junior doctors’
The Social MEDia Course
Fred Cavazza . Social media commentator and reporter
Social Media in Medical Education Blog
Greenhow, C. (2011). ‘Online social networks and learning’. On the Horizon. 19(1), Pp. 4-12.
Greenhow, C. (2009). ‘Social scholarship: applying social networking technologies
to research practices’. Knowledge Quest. 37(4), Pp. 42-47.
Eytan, T., Benabio, J., Golla Rahul Parikh, V., & Stein, S. (2010). ‘Social media and
the health system’. The Permanente Journal, 15(1), Pp.71-74.
Carpenter, J., Wetheridge, L., Smith, N., Goodman, M, and Struijvé, O (2010)
Researchers of tomorrow: A three year (BL/JISC) study tracking the research
behaviour of 'Generation Y‘ doctoral students. Accessed 16/10/13. Available at:
Minocha, S. and Kerawalla, L. (2010). Understanding students' self-motivated blogging
and development of study skills and research skills. In: Lee, M.J.W. and McLoughlin,
C. (Eds.) Web 2.0-Based E-Learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching.
IGI Global, Pp. 149–179.
Gorham, R. Carter, L. Nowrouzi, B. McLean, N. and Guimond, M. (2012) Social Media
and Health Education: What the Early Literature Says. Journal of Distance Education. 26(2)
Accessed 21/10/13 at
And now the exciting bit....

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