Collaboration “Practice What I Preach” By Donna Peach

Having undertaken my degree in psychology via the Open University I learned the value of internet connections as a means to sustain independent and distant learning; thus I established a Twitter feed and Facebook group known as @PhDForum. The predominant aim was to facilitate and support postgraduate students by sharing their lows & highs during their doctoral journeys. Although some find the number of re-tweets via @PhDForum too many, the fundamental aim is to share experiences and this means that when you tweet to @PhDForum it often needs to be Re-tweeted to communicate to the phdforum community. Some have suggested that more order and structure is built into the feed and this can and will be considered. Otherwise the development of PHDForum will remain organic and some things will be tried and if popular can be repeated. For example some of our recent storify’s have elicited quite profound responses, but I suspect they may also benefit from being less frequent.

A recent development has been that of the social sciences twitter feed @SOCPHD, with its own wordpress blog and a facebook page. In addition weekly Tweetchats using the hashtag #socchat will take place each Thursday the details of which can be found at     However, it quickly became apparent that 140 characters limited the depth to which narratives can develop. Thus a week ago we launched a social sciences forum at it is hoped that this forum will enable requests for connections to endure longer than a tweet which often will be missed even with numerous re-tweets. The format is at this time basic and it will be developed in accordance with the communities who begin to establish themselves there. A spin off from our first chat was the formation of the #dementiaphd group.

What is readily apparent to any social media user is that many universities, organisations, groups and individuals have numerous chats, forums and seminars aiming to improve collaboration. Often collaboration is something everyone wants but it only exists in the activity of the individuals who make a commitment to it. This does not require a daily or even a weekly investment of time, but it does mean making some contribution.  I think part of the SOCPHD strength is not only in the diversity of its community but in the enthusiasm for wanting to collaborate. We do not need to reinvent the wheel but to network with other collaborators and share and support their efforts. It is a time not to be precious about what collaboration can do for us, but indeed what we can do for collaboration.

So I hope my personal commitment to collaboration in the social sciences is clear. I am eternally grateful to all those who have offered and delivered support during these formative weeks. This is a cooperative and its success relies on all who take part. This is what we need right now:

  • People on Twitter to RT & Fav our posts and to spread the word about our existence
  • Everyone to talk about this project to others in your universities’, your organisations, your colleagues.
  • Join in our tweetchats to be running weekly from this week.
  • Chat’s will I suspect need to be topic focused at times and it would be great if someone within that discipline would host or co-host with the support from socphd.
  • Writing blogs engages others in your research and enable them to understand its relevance for them. Thus we are grateful for all offers of guest blogs and invite more to extend this discourse.
  • Finally, we need more of you to start using the website forum; it is in its infancy and requires lots and lots of stimulation if it is to develop. The forum categories may require alteration and this is easily achieved once we know what is needed.

I am the curator of @PhDForum & @SOCPHD but I view them as communities of which I am privileged to be associated with. I am grateful for any ideas or suggestions on how we should develop or if someone wants to take a lead in a particular area, just get in touch. Thank you if you managed to read this all the way through and don’t forget to say ‘hi’ next time you drop by. :-)


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