This autumn it is 2 years since #phdchat was first used to enable a synchronous discussion between research students. As we approach the start of a new academic year, it seems an opportune time to look back over the past two years and to look forward to where #phdchat might go in the future.
#phdchat was born out of discussions between a few research students who were also Twitter users in the autumn of 2010. They recognised that being a research student is not unlike the loneliness of the long distance runner, as often we lack peer contact and support in our different institutions. Identifying a time in a week when people could talk to each other was seen as a way of addressing peer support needs.
Somewhat to the surprise of those who had the initial idea, #phdchat took off! It is unknown how many people have used the hashtag, or contributed to discussions, or followed a chat, but 172 people have requested access to the #phdchat wiki – and that is almost certainly the tip of the iceberg!
Over the two years, #phdchat has moved from being a virtual discussion place on a Wednesday evening, to being a community one can tap into at any time of day or night. It has spawned an Antipodean version – meeting once a month at a time more appropriate to that part of the world. There have been contributors from many different disciplines from all over the world, and a few academics have put their heads above the parapet – and, we suspect others lurk from time to time. On the wiki, we have share links to blogs describing our research in plain English and to conference papers we have presented as well as trying to write our CVs in 100 words.
On 5th September, instead of the usual chat, we are proposing to review #phdchat and make plans for the coming year. We would like to know:
- What do people value about #phdchat
- What do you think we do well?
- What do you think we could do better?
- What would you like to see happening in #phdchat which doesn’t happen at the moment?
- Are there any themes you would particularly like to discuss?
- Would you be willing to lead a discussion? If so, what on?
Obviously, it would be good to have a proper discussion on 5/9, but some people won’t be able to log in, so please feel free to comment on this blog with your thoughts on those questions.