Let’s be honest … despite being told by teachers and lecturers not to use Wikipedia as it is not a credible source of information, I think most of us have found it to be an extremely useful site full of way more accurate information than we are led to believe. Personally, I think it is one of the best websites to use for background information, or for first-stage research into a particular topic. For example, my research is focused on fluorescence spectroscopy. The Wikipedia page for this topic is quite a short read, but by the end of it you should have quite a clear understanding of what fluorescence spectroscopy is. So, Wikipedia is a great place to begin!
The opening paragraph of most Wikipedia pages is very concise, allowing you to find information very quickly and easily. I have found this to be particularly useful when coming across terms in academic papers that I am not familiar with. Wikipedia allows me to gain an understanding of the term, giving me more information than a dictionary would, but without consuming huge amounts of my time.
However, considering that Wikipedia can be edited by just about anyone, it is of course always wise to check references to see where the information has been sourced from and if it is reputable.
IMAGE SHARING SITES
Out of all the image sharing sites out there, I think Instagram is a personal favourite. This is most likely due to the fact that I have had a personal Instagram account for years, so I am very familiar with the platform.
Since starting my PhD, I have followed many PhD related accounts. These range from individual student’s accounts who are sharing their PhD journey through images, to accounts that share tips and advice for research. I find these pages to be particularly helpful when I’m feeling a bit worried or down about my research. Everyone’s going to struggle with writing from time to time or feel like they haven’t done enough reading, and these pages make me realise that everyone’s in the same boat, as well as being very motivational.
Following other students on Instagram has definitely inspired to set up my own professional account to share my PhD journey. However, considering that I am pretty much just working on my literature review at the moment, I think I’ll save this for a bit later down the line when I start doing some field/lab work etc. Otherwise, it will just be picture after picture of me reading academic papers or procrastinating from writing, which I don’t think will inspire many people!
When it comes to other image sharing sites like Flickr and Pinterest, I haven’t really had much experience. I may have a look on these sites from time to time for a bit of inspiration but I don’t think I’ll be setting up my own account. Consistently sharing and looking for images on more than one site will probably end up consuming too much of my time, so I think I’ll stick solely to Instagram for now at least.
PRESENTATIONS AND PODCASTS
Presentations can be a great way to absorb a lot of information very quickly, or to share your research with others in a clear and concise manner. I might find a good presentation on sites like SlideShare from time to time that will help me understand some concepts that I am having difficulty grasping, but as a PhD student, I find presentations on university/research centre websites to be much more useful. I find that these sites have presentations (e.g. university lectures) that are better suited to a higher level of study, and also have presentations on research that may be relevant to my field.
Podcasts are something that I have tried to listen to in the past, but have never really gotten into. I don’t tend to find podcasts very informative, and by the end feel as though I’ve spent an hour consuming about 5 minutes worth of information. However, many people love and recommend them so perhaps I’ll give them another go. They could potentially be great things to listen to in ‘dead’ time, while waiting for the bus for example.