Things 10 and 11 2014: Other online networks

Where Facebook is explicitly geared towards personal use, LinkedIn and focus on professional connections. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, and it allows you to build an online profile that features your experience and skills as well as to network with other users in a professional environment, so it provides a great way to connect with contacts from your work world. is essentially a sort of LinkedIn focused on the academic world, so it provides improved features for things like listing publications. Also – going back to our discussions of online presence – LinkedIn and profiles tend to feature high in Google searches, so a well-constructed profile can be a great way to develop your online brand.

Google+ is much more of a social network like Facebook. There’s quite a bit of debate around how heavily it’s used, but it’s clear that Google treats it positively when dealing with search results. If you have a gmail account, you quite possible already have a Google+ page. It’s worth a look, just to make sure it’s not a blank page with no info.

You’re not required to set up an account on either network to finish Things 10 or 11, but you’ll need an account to explore many of the tools’ features, and it’s a good way to improve your professional presence online. Pick one (or sign up for both!) and set up an account. You can always delete it later if you feel the need.

Getting an account on either tool is simple, and you can register from each tool’s home page. Make sure you fill in your profile fully. Think about the search terms you used in Thing 5 and whether you might like to include them here. Remember that these are professional networks, so your photo, taglines and activities should be those you’d be happy with employers and colleagues seeing. LinkedIn allows you to upload your CV straight into your account (with a chance to edit and format, of course!), which offers an easy way to get all your job information in.

Once you’ve signed up, try adding colleagues or other contacts. Successful social media use requires that you actively connect with people and give them something to interact with, rather than just setting up an account and leaving it. If you already have a profile but haven’t used it very much, you might think about these aspects next. You can use your email accounts to find ‘connections’. Don’t be worried about sending requests to contacts; it’s considered fairly normal. Try taking this a step further; rather than just sending a request to connect, send a message with a question or a message.

Specific functionality:


    • LinkedIn offers groups, which allow you to join others based around a sector, place of work or other interest – for example, University of Oxford Alumni or those in this list of great groups for academics. You can also search for groups.LinkedIn also allows you to see who has viewed your profile, send private messages and give and ask for recommendation and skill endorsements.


  • has less functionality, but it is geared towards academic activities. You can write update posts on your activities, upload papers and other documents which might include ‘grey’ literature such as conference papers as well as link to your journal articles. It can also tell you how many people have viewed your profile, what keywords they used to find you, and who is following your work. You can also follow the profiles of other scholars, which is useful to keep up to date with people’s publications.

Exploring further

  • Many people find LinkedIn useful as a tool for job searching. Employers can post jobs but, more importantly, your profile can give you the opportunity to ‘sell’ yourself to potential employers. Having endorsements and recommendations can help. Try asking for a recommendation for your current or previous position.

Blog post
As we mentioned, feel free to talk about all of this week’s things in one post, as they lend themselves to comparison and discussion. Did you choose to use one tool over the other? Do you think these tools offer a good way to present your professional profile, or do you prefer something else (a website, blog, etc.)?

If you use Facebook, do you feel that LinkedIn or are a suitable alternative space for professional activities, or do you find Facebook works just as well if not better for what you want to do?

Note that all of these tools can be useful, but they can also take up a lot of time. Is it better to have no profile at all than an out-of-date one?

Tag your post Thing 10 and Thing 11.

Thing 9 2014: Facebook

Facebook is a social network service that builds online communities of people by connecting people who share interests and/or activities. Facebook elicits mixed reactions from groups of people. Some love it; some loathe it. Even those who love it often loathe particular elements. You do not have to sign up to Facebook to complete this Thing, although we suspect many of you have already and we encourage you to do so in order to see what it’s all about. Instead, we’ll ask you to think about Facebook’s purpose and how it might be used.

Facebook is the world’s biggest social network, with over 1 billion active members. Most people use Facebook to socialise with friends and families by sharing photos, updates and news. But researchers can use Facebook to connect to their audiences by:

  • Building a personal/professional profile
  • Creating ‘pages’ (rather than personal accounts) for brands, businesses, institutions, and campaigns
  • Bringing people together via a group.


If you’d like to join Facebook and haven’t yet, it’s fairly easy to sign up from the homepage and create a profile. You might want to take some time to explore Facebook’s privacy policies, as they’re an area of concern for some. You can use your privacy settings to ensure that only friends or only particular people see what you put up. This is useful – and highly recommended – if you’re using Facebook in a purely personal way.  If you’re new to Facebook, take some time to find contacts and play with its features. Facebook’s Help Center is quite good and can help explain things like the Timeline.

As mentioned, Facebook has both personal ‘profiles’ and organisational/institutional ‘pages’. Whether you’re new or a seasoned user, go to the Engage: Social Media Michaelmas page and ‘Like’ it. To find our page, do a simple search in the search box at the top. When you like a page, information posted on it will appear in your news feed on your Facebook home page. The same is true of those you are friends with.

Other pages (all of which can be viewed with or without Facebook membership) in which you might be interested are:

You may also consider the use of groups in social media. These have proved successful in bringing together research or class groups to discuss or share content. If you don’t have access to WebLearn, Moodle, Yammer or Sharepoint, a closed and private group can be an easy way to foster discussion – and many involved will already be on it.

Exploring further
If you’re really interested in creating a page for an institutional department, or in taking your Facebook use further, feel free to take a look through this presentation by Liz McCarthy of the Bodleian Libraries on ‘Facebook pages that work’ (note: 2013 version, so some slides may be out of date).

Blog post

Feel free to talk about all of this week’s things in one post, as they lend themselves to comparison and discussion. Do you think Facebook is useful or not, and why? If you use it, how do you use it, and what do you get out of it? Is Facebook more valuable to you as a place to build your public research profile or as a place to build or join networks? If you don’t want to use it, why not? Tag your post ‘Thing 9’.

Bonus Thing 2 2014: Twitter Chat

eldh on Flickr

eldh on Flickr

In Thing 6, we talked about using Twitter for live twitter chats, such as the #phdchat that happens each week. We’re pleased to announce that we’ll be running a 23 Things chat on Thursday, 6 November. We’ll be talking about social media use in research and the higher education setting.

It’s super easy to participate; all you have to do is make sure you’re on Twitter between 3 and 4pm and keeping an eye on tweets with the hashtag #oxengage (hint: click on that link for a saved #23things search). We’ll start off the conversation with some questions for you to think about, and we’re hoping to get some of our Engage presenters to take part as well so that you can ask them about their experiences using social media for research. You can respond to questions with thoughts from your own experiences or ask questions of other participants.

If you’d like to read more about tweet chats and how to get the most out of them (don’t be afraid to ask questions! Please do introduce yourself!), take a look at this Tweet Chats 101 article.

Although the chat is 23 Things-based, you don’t have to be an actual 23 Things participant to take part. We hope to ‘see’ you on the 6th!

Thing 8 2014: Storify and other tools

We’ve covered quite a lot this week already, so this final post is a bit more of a fun one. We’ll take a quick look at tools that let you aggregate and share information from other social media and online sources, starting with Storify.

Storify is a way of bringing together content from across the web to create ‘social stories’, which you can then share. It’s an easy way to combine different media on a particular subject – say, a conference or an event – in a nice, embeddable format. As an example,here’s a Storify I made our 2012 23 Things Twitter chat, which follows the online discussion through the various questions posed. You’ll see it includes blog posts as well as tweets, and I’ve annotated it with some notes and headings. Storify can pull information from news outlets, websites, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more. Take a look at the featured stories on the Storify homepage and see what it can do.

You can sign into Storify using your Facebook or Twitter account (or your email if that’s easier). Once you’re signed in, it’s easy to get started. Use the button at the top to ‘Create a story’. You’ll be asked to add a title (‘headline’) and an optional description, then you can use the icons in the right-hand-side column to search various media (Twitter, Google, Facebook, etc.) for content. You can drag any items you want to include over onto your story on the left, and drag them around to reorder as you like (if you want more info, Storify provides detailed instructions). When you’re happy with what you’ve made, click ‘Publish’ (you can also save for later), and you’re done! You can get a link to embed your story on a website, share it via social media or email, or simply give others the link to visit.

There are other tools that allow you to aggregate and publish information from various sources., for example, allows you to create online newspapers of stories and links (there’s a great quick guide on the website). allows you to do the same thing – see help for info).

Blog post
Spend some time exploring these tools and stories/papers generated by them. Compare them – can you see them being used for different purposes? Is one easier to read then the other? What might you use them for? Tag your post ‘Thing 8’.

Further reading

Thing 7 2014: RSS feeds

What are RSS feeds?
RSS (Rich Site Summary – often called Really Simple Syndication) is a web feed format that provides the full text of web content together with links to the original source.

Why use them?
Although RSS feeds are losing favour with some people, who prefer to use Twitter, Facebook, etc. to stay up to date, RSS feeds save you time and energy by bringing together articles and information and allowing you to read them in one place – the information comes to you! Many websites and blogs allow you to set up RSS feeds for their content. RSS feeds are also commonly available from databases which allow you to subscribe to feeds for journal articles on a specific topic. In this way you can be alerted whenever new content is added to your favourite websites or when a new issue of an e-journal is published.

RSS feeds are also useful if you run your own website. We’ve provided a link on this blog, for example, to an RSS feed that lets you subscribe to our content.

To set up RSS feeds, you need to sign up to a feed reader or aggregator – software that checks RSS feeds and displays updated content. There are many available. Free web-based readers, e.g. Feedly, let you check RSS feeds from any computer whereas downloadable desktop clients, e.g. FeedDemon, let you store them on your own computer. Many tools have apps and sync to the cloud, so your feeds are up to date wherever you are. You are free to choose your own; we used to focus on Google Reader, but it shut down earlier this year, allowing numerous ‘new’ contenders to pop up. Some options:

  • Feedly: A really simple and easy to use tool that has lots of sharing capabilities (send to email, save to Evernote or Pocket, tweet or send to Facebook, etc.)
  • Digg: A ‘social’ news aggregator that also provides RSS capabilities
  • Tiny Tiny RSS: Good for DIY types – requires a bit more work and you have to set it up on your own server, but allows lots of customisation and doesn’t depend on other services
  • Pulse: A very visual, magazine-like RSS reader

Here at 23 Things, we’re most familiar with Feedly, and it’s certainly one of the popular choices – but feel free to try any others (and please report back on what you think if you do).

Most blogs and many websites will allow you to subscribe via RSS, even if they don’t have a specific button or link for it. Many web browsers will offer a subscribe button up in the address bar or the bookmarks menu. If you don’t see a subscription link, copy and paste the feed’s URL into the ‘Add Content’ box or ‘Subscribe’ box in your reader.

You should aim to subscribe to at least five other feeds. You may want to add some of the other 23 Things bloggers, or perhaps your favourite news blog or site.


Exploring further

  • Explore tools that allow you manage subscriptions. In Feedly, there are options at the top and bottom of each item that allow you to save, share or tag the item. You can categorize your feeds. Managing your categories can be particularly helpful if you subscribe to a large number of feeds.
  • Add an extension to your browser to make subscribing to feeds even easier. Try this one for Chrome or this one for Firefox.

Blog post
Do you view RSS feeds as a useful tool in keeping up to date? Do you think you will use them in future? Tag your post ‘Thing 7’.

Thing 6 2014: Twitter

What is Twitter?
Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows you to publish short updates of up to 140 characters. You can follow other users to subscribe to their updates. All updates from users you follow appear in your own feed, so it’s easy to see them.

Why use Twitter?
It’s a common misconception that Twitter is ALL about people tweeting what they had for breakfast (or their latest date, or their sleeping habits, etc.). Although there are certainly (many!) people who only use Twitter for these things, the reality is that many professional users prefer to use it to ask questions, network or share relevant information and interesting links. It can be a powerful tool, both for building professional contacts and for staying up to date in your area. There are also many organizations and researchers using Twitter creatively to stay in touch with their students or contacts. You can use Twitter to tweet your work, ask questions, crowdsource data and reach new audiences, as well as to publicise events and news, get feedback and get/answer questions in the classroom. You might use Twitter for any of the following (via #DH23):

  • Publicising your work, such as a new blog post or article
  • Disseminating news about your professional activities, such as attending a conference
  • Commenting on news in your field or HE in general
  • Sharing interesting context you find, through tweeting URLs or through retweeting others’ tweets
  • News updates (from blogs such as those of other 23 Things participants, InsideHigherEd or publications such as the THES or Guardian Higher Education)
  • Opportunities and news from professional or research bodies such as Vitae or the UK Research Staff Association or funding bodies such as the Research Councils UK or AHRC
  • Calls for papers, funding opportunities or jobs
  • Activities in departments, libraries and other research centres
  • Live tweeting at conferences (either participating in the conference audience ‘backchannel’ or to get a flavour of discussions and speakers to look up, and participate remotely by asking questions, if you can’t attend in person)
  • Asking questions, and answering those of others
  • Crowdsourcing and finding research collaborators or participants
  • Finding and contacting individual scholars in your field who might be able to recommend readings, answer questions or suggest opportunities that would be interesting for you
  • Enhancing some of the more informal communication that occurs in the academic world such as networking at conferences and seminars, bumping into colleagues at your own and other institutions or moral support from peers
  • Peer support
  • A bit of light relief: follow @PhDcomics or @LegoAcademics

Some basic Twitter vocabulary
(see the Twitter Glossary for more)

If you already have a Twitter account, skip ahead to Exploring Further. If not, follow these easy steps to get one set up.

  1. Go to and use the sign up box to get started. Follow the steps to create an account (if you want more help, Twitter provides detailed step-by-step instructions). You may want to think about your online presence when you decide on a user name. Do you want to be consistent across your various accounts?
  2. Once you have created your account, you’ll be taken to your Twitter homepage where there are further steps to work through to get you started, e.g. updating your profile to include a short biography or adding a profile picture. You can come back to these steps at any time using the link to Settings in the top right corner of the screen. We recommend you leave the privacy box unchecked so that others can see your tweets and communicate with you.Untitled
  3. Now post your first update! Click on the status box on the top left where it says ‘Compose new Tweet…’. Write a comment – maybe something about your participation in 23 Things. As you type you will see the number in the top right of the box decrease; this tells you how many characters you have left. Leave enough space to add the hashtag #oxengage at the end. This is the hashtag for the Engage and 23 Things programmes and will allow others to search for all #oxengage tweets. Once you’re done, click ‘update’. You’ll see your tweet appear in your timeline.
  4. Find people to follow.
    1. Search by name or twitter handle in the search box. Try looking for and following @bodleianlibs and @ltgoxford.
    2. There’s also a follow button on every user’s profile page.
  5. Exploring further

    • Twitter hashtags offer a great way of following conferences – either by finding out about and interacting with those at a conference with you, or by hearing details of a conference you were unable to attend. Take a look and see if a conference of interest to you has/had a hashtag, and then see what sort of tweets come up under that hashtag (keep in mind that Twitter may not show results before a certain date).
    • Another way to use hashtags is to set up real time chats – for instance, the Guardian Higher Education chats each Friday, or the #phdchats on Wednesdays. These are usually held at specific times each week or month, and you can participate by tweeting your comments or questions with the appropriate hashtag. Take a look at the tweets around last week’s Guardian HE chat (conveniently on academic blogging – search for #HElivechat) or #phdchat to get an idea. There’s an open Google doc that lists over 300 live chats and their dates/times; they cover all sorts of topics.
    • Use lists! Twitter allows you to make lists of other Twitter users, so you can categorize people in helpful ways. You can also follow other Twitter users’ lists. @ltgoxford has some great lists of people and departments in the University who are on Twitter
    • Set up and save searches for relevant topics, people or events in your field.
    • Take a look at a few Twitter clients. Tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite allow you to schedule tweets ahead of time and track retweets, reach and other stats.

    Blog post
    Think about Twitter and how you think it may or may not be relevant to you. Do you feel it’s useful? Why or why not? Tag your post ‘Thing 6′.

    Further Reading:

Bonus Thing 1 2014: Building a personal website


Our series of ‘bonus things’ for 2014 provides some extra credit type things that you can do to augment your online presence and the skills in your portfolio. The first bonus thing covers building a personal website.

Why would you need or consider a personal website? You may have a number of good reasons for doing so. A personal website can give access to your various contact details, profiles and provide a good hub for advertising yourself and what you do. It’s great if you have multiple jobs or online ‘personalities’. A writer AND a musician? No worries! Let people know in one place. A personal website is also dynamic; you can update it and change it easily to showcase recent work or alter details.

You don’t need to be able to code in order to create a personal hub page; there are lots of free or low cost and easy ways to do it.

Super easy

If what you want is simply a landing page that you can use to pull together all your information with style, you won’t need more than an hour or so. There are a number of services that do this quite easily.

  • Add a hub page to your WordPress blog, and make it your landing page. Bonus: get a custom domain name for your blog (for a fee).
  • Gives you a landing page with a large and lovely photo and allows you to list your various profiles.
  • Very similar to; offers paid-for premium content such as a custom domain name, video or audio content and multiple pages.
  • Strikingly: Advertises itself as great for mobile, and offers analytics.
  • Other options:, Pixelhub

No coding required, but will require more time, skills and possibly money

If you want to invest a bit more time into a more powerful site, there are a number of options. Just a few:

  •  Squarespace: Not free, but offers an easy-to-use drag and drop interface. For those wanting more functionality.
  • Wix and Weebly: Easy to use, and allow lots of customisation. Both offer free plans but may require a paid plan to avoid ads or get a custom domain name.
  • We’ve recommended’s free blogging tools for your 23 Things blog, but offers more powerful solutions. WordPress now accounts for about 60% of the world’s CMS-based websites! You’ll need to pay for hosting and it can take a bit more work to get things set up, but things like one-click installation help make these processes simple. There’s lots of help online.

Straightforward, but will require some html and/or coding skills

If you have some basic html and/or coding skills, your options grow. Some simple ones:

Thing 5 2014: Consider your personal brand

Thing 6 2013: Consider your online presence

Your ‘personal brand’ is affected by online information and your online presence, whether you’re active online or not. The first thing many people (including potential and current employers!) will do when they hear your name is Google you, and it’s important to learn how to ‘curate’ that brand, which should be considered part of your professional identity. A good way to think about it is as an extension of the professional you. A strong online presence can be a powerful tool in achieving your professional goals, particularly in promoting your work and reaching a wider audience.

For Thing 5, we’ll be exploring a number of ways to manage and keep tabs on your digital footprint. You’ve already made a crucial step in setting up your blog! Some of these represent some basic tools that you may already be familiar with. If you’re pretty comfortable with the basics, we’ll provide some additional options you may wish to explore.

We’ll begin by taking a look at what content is associated with your name online. Start by Googling yourself. Type your name into Google (and/or any other search engine) and see what comes up (you may also want to try nicknames – Liz vs Elizabeth, for example). Do the same thing over at socialmention, which gathers data from social media. Next try running your name through MIT’s Personas project, which is a fun way to visualise the types of content associated with your name and clue you in to other people with the same name.

You may want to try combining your name with certain key words (e.g. ‘libraries’ or ‘neuroscience’), or even seeing if what comes up when you search for keywords only (e.g. ‘neuroscience researchers oxford’). Do you or your work appear on the first page or two? If so, is it content with which you’d like to see yourself associated?

Once you’ve analysed how you appear online, start to think about how you’d like to appear and what you might be able to do to make that happen. Quite a few of the tools we’ll explore in upcoming Things can improve and augment your online presence (having a LinkedIn profile, for example, is a great way to make sure you’re visible), but there are things you can do now:

First of all, think about online accounts and profiles you already have. Do they come up when you search? Do you want them to? Make sure accounts you already manage are up to date and reflect the persona you want to share – including your name and photograph, if relevant. If you haven’t already, fill out the ‘About’ page on your new or existing blog, and consider adding a photograph. Try to be consistent across all platforms.

Professional vs Personal
Do you want to keep your professional and personal identities separate online? Many choose a middle ground and let their personality shine through their professional presence. Keep in mind that if content is accessible to colleagues and professional contacts, you may not want your latest holiday snaps or student party photos showing (although this may be fine for some people/accounts). You may also want to consider whether anonymity does or does not fit in with your professional goals.

Blog post:

  • How easy were you to find online? Were you happy with what you found? What sort of ‘person’ emerged, and what might other people think about him or her? What did you, or might you, do to address this?
  • How important do you think it is to maintain a professional presence online?
  • Tag your blog post ‘Thing 5’.

Exploring further
If you feel you already have a handle on your online presence, or if you’d like to take what you’ve just done a little bit further, there’s always more you can do to ‘curate’ your online brand.

  • Consider linking. If you have multiple online accounts, find ways to connect them. If you have accounts on social media tools like Twitter or LinkedIn, you may want to provide links to them on your blog (see this WordPress help article if you want info on creating links). Google likes to see pages on domains, so include a link to your University profile or page (if applicable) from your other accounts.
  • Try setting up a Google alert for your name, or perhaps your name with a keyword or two. Go to and choose your search terms, how often you’d like to receive alerts, and where you’d like to receive them.

You may also wish to investigate our ‘bonus thing’ for the week: building a personal website.

Further reading

Thing 4 2014: Explore other blogs and get to know some of the other participants


One of the best parts about a 23 Things programme is the ability to interact with and draw on the expertise and learning of a community of participants. Over the course of the week, we’ll be adding to the participants’ blog list in the sidebar. Take some time to look at other blogs and read about what other community members hope to get from 23 Things. Feel free to comment on others’ posts.

We encourage you to keep checking other blogs as the programme continues. Seeing what others are doing can often help answer your own questions and can offer inspiration for your own work!

Thing 3 2014: Write a blog post about social media


Before we talk about what to write on your blog, let’s talk about why to write. If you already have your own blog and are a confident blogger, feel free to jump down to the the ‘what to write for Thing 3’ section of this post.

Why blog?
People blog because they want to share something. For some people, that ‘something’ is cats or holiday pictures, but blogging can be a great development tool for sharing research and professional insights. It’s a great way to incorporate reflective practice into your work, and it also helps you share your work with others, making professional contacts and extending your online network and presence.

Before you start, it may be helpful to think about what kind of things you want to share and what kind of blogger you want to be. Do you want to share research? Connect with those in your field? Increase your online presence? Develop an online presence for a project? Simply reflect upon your 23 Things experience? The answer to these questions will help determine the tone you take and what kinds of things you want to share on your blog.


There is a certain set of expectations around style and tone that comes with blogging. Generally you should simply be yourself and write clearly. A certain level of personality and informality is usually fine, and often welcome. A few more tips:

  • Be concise. Short is better. Use subheadings and images to break up the text.
  • Know your audience (or your intended audience).
  • Ask questions! Get your audience involved.
  • Allow your personality to show, and don’t be afraid of humour.
  • Blog regularly. This doesn’t have to be every week, but it should be consistent.

What to write for Thing 3

For your first 23 Things blog post, we’d like you to write a short piece about your experiences with social media and what you hope to get out of the 23 Things for Research and the Engage: Social Media Michaelmas programme. If you’re new to social media and digital tools for communication, do you have any ideas about how it might help or affect your work? If you’re using these things already, what do you use? What are you hoping to explore?

Note: Please ‘tag’ or ‘label’ this post ‘Thing 3′ so that others can easily follow your progress and find specific posts. For each post you make in the 23 Things programme, please make sure to label or tag it ‘Thing [?]’ for the number of the Thing it relates to. You’re welcome to add other tags if you would like to. If you’d like guidance on tags and labels, there are instructions online for Blogger or WordPress. If you are using another service, have a quick Google or feel free to ask the 23 Things team.

Further reading