Online groups for international networking and collaboration

In this post, Joanne McCuaig, a distance learning PGR in the College of Arts and Law, explains how and why she set up online discussion groups using Twitter.

I’m a part-time, distance student in my 2nd year, in the department of English Language and Applied Linguistics. I’m a Canadian, living in South Korea, studying with a UK institution; I wanted to take advantage of any networking opportunities. First, I set up my Academic Twitter account – regular Twitter but used as a research profile to share about your skills and work.

Joanne McCuaig's Twitter profile, @JoanneMcCuaig3. 🇨🇦 in 🇰🇷 PhD student 🇬🇧. #Linguistics research, how medical terms are used by academics, media, & the public #CorpusLinguistics and #DiscourseAnalysis

I then decided to start two different student groups. I got the idea after attending an online conference that had breakout sessions for PhD students. It was energising to be able to share about our research, ask questions to others, and offer suggestions for literature, methods, or approaches.  A few months after the conference I contacted, via Twitter, a few of the students I’d “met” at the conference to ask if they wanted to continue the conversation. 

The time commitment for organisation and maintenance is kept to a minimum. To keep it simple, the information is shared via a Google Doc link so that everyone has access and can edit. This way, there’s no need for a mailing list as attendees can log in to see the agenda and Zoom link, and post any questions. I use Twitter to advertise the groups so that presenters get a shoutout about their contributions. Overall, there are anywhere from 12-16 attendees, from different institutions worldwide, sharing and engaging with new colleagues.  

I encourage you to start an Academic Twitter account and to start an online student group. It’s effective for networking, possible collaborations, and helps when searching for public engagement opportunities.

The two groups I have set up are #DAdiscussion and #CorpusCoffeeTime on discourse analysis and corpus linguistics respectively. Contact me on Twitter if you’d like to get involved.

#DAdiscussion

We meet online twice a month to discuss our PhD research that uses critical/discourse analysis. We take turns to sign up on a shared Google Spreadsheet, to host and present about our research, while attendees ask questions and suggest readings or theories to consider. Presentations can be anywhere from 10-60 minutes in length, with questions and ideas shared by group members afterwards. It is a supportive group that has a variety of disciplines from various institutions attending. The next meeting is March 23rd, 13:00 UK time, for one hour.

#CorpusCoffeeTime

We meet online twice a month to discuss our PhD research that uses corpus linguistics. We talk about our research and ask/share resources and ideas for using corpus linguistics. Recently, ECRs and PhD candidates nearing completion have been attending as “informed guests” to answer specific questions about their approaches, projects, careers, etc. There is a shared Google Doc that attendees post questions on ahead of the meeting. The informed guests are announced on Twitter. The next meeting is March 24th, 12:00 UK time, for one hour.

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