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It’s somewhat of a truism that the doctoral journey is a lonely one, especially for those of us who, for whatever reason, tend to spend more time off campus than on. Even on campus, opportunities for sharing with others can be something of a rarity.

Over the last few weeks, I have begun to join in a weekly chat session on Twitter. On Wednesday evenings between 7.30 and 8.30 a disparate group of research students communicate with each other in 140 character messages on topics like literature review, managing data, writing, etc. The weekly topic is decided in advance via a poll. We share resources, realise we are not alone and hold each other to account. The fact that we are working in different areas – and sometimes different countries – is irrelevant as we are able to offer each other that sense of not being alone.

When the idea of a Twitter chat was mooted to me, my immediate thought was it couldn’t work; 140 characters would be too restrictive to say anything meaningful. How wrong I was!

If there are any research students out there reading this and feeling isolated, do take a look at #phdchat on Twitter and consider joining us next Wednesday – or any Wednesday that you happen to be free!



  1. Anna says:

    What a beautiful idea, I’m almost tempted to join Twitter to join in!
    Remember that you have a DPhil community close to ‘home’ as well – you are always welcome for a cuppa or a study session in the interact dphil room

  2. Martin Eve says:

    Anna: there’ll be a social media for research workshop next term at Sussex (I wonder who could possibly be running that? *shameless plug*) — perhaps see you there?

  3. ailsa says:

    Nice blog 🙂
    I’d agree about it being useful for any phders, I enjoyed what was a pretty intense hour, time just flew. Left me smiling…knowing Im not alone, made a few acquaintances of people sharing some similar stresses, but also some areas of content that overlap. A +ve start to my writing day.

  4. Ian Robson says:

    I agree – it was great. I had some initial reservations abou the format (not the people) but found it stimulating, encouraging and reflective!

  5. Karen says:

    I was struck by the international makeup of the group. Talk about blurring boundaries!

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