Deborah Lupton talks about using social media for research

  • Deborah Lupton talks about using social media for research

Deborah Lupton is an academic whose early uptake of using social media for research and academic purposes helped her become an iconic Australian sociologist. Several years ago, the University of Sydney interviewed Deborah about her experiences of using social media for academic purposes. This advice still applies today.

In 2017, Deborah co-edited The Digital Academic: Critical Perspectives on Digital Technologies in Higher Education with Inger Mewburn (The Thesis Whisperer) and Pat Thomson; they’re also academics whose blogs are must-reads. They have contributions from researchers in Australia, the UK, Hong Kong, the USA and Canada. More information on this below!

In 2016, Deborah reviewed Social Media for Academics by Mark Carrigan

I have written many times on this blog about my own experiences of using social media and other digital tools for academic work and my research focusing on how other academics are doing this.

One of the people I have encountered along the way is Mark Carrigan, an early career British sociologist. Appropriately enough, we first met on Twitter a few years ago, around the time I began experimenting with various digital tools for professional purposes. Since then, we have had many discussions there and on other online forums, as well as by email, about using social media in universities (and a couple of in-person meetings as well). Mark has now written a book on Social Media for Academics. It is the first book I know of to present a ‘how-to’ manual combined with reflections on the wider implications of  academic social media engagement.

Mark is a great example of someone who has strategically used social media while still in the very early stages of his career (completing his doctorate) to create a high profile for his work. He has now built on this experience not only to work in various positions involving promoting academic journals, departments and organisations, but to produce this book. In its chapters, Mark employs a casual, chatty style to painlessly introduce readers to the art of academic social media.

The book is distinctive because Mark’s sociological training allows him to contextualise the social, cultural and political implications of academic social media use. Yes, he offers  a multitude of helpful tips and advice about how best to communicate online, what platforms and tools are the most effective, how to develop your own voice, how online engagement helps in promoting one’s research and reaching wider audiences outside academia, building networks, curating interesting material you have found on the internet, finding time to use social media and so on. But there are also reflections offered on what academic social media means for professional identities and for academic work in general. In addition there are many pithy remarks drawing on Mark’s observations, for example, of the awkwardness that sometimes accompanies the experience of colleagues meeting in the flesh after having developed a hitherto purely online relationship, or the potential pitfalls of live-tweeting conferences or writing a tweet or blog post in haste and anger that then becomes widely circulated well after the initial irritation has subsided.

This book is highly recommended for higher degree students and faculty staff members who are interested in the possibilities of academic social media for both research and teaching, as well as researchers interested in future directions for the university workplace and academic identities.

Now Deborah and some colleagues have published their own book on social media for research

In 2017, Deborah co-edited The Digital Academic: Critical Perspectives on Digital Technologies in Higher Education with Inger Mewburn (The Thesis Whisperer) and Pat Thomson; they’re also academics whose blogs are must-reads. They have contributions from researchers in Australia, the UK, Hong Kong, the USA and Canada.

This is the list of contents:

  1. The Digital Academic: Identities, Contexts and Politics: Deborah Lupton, Inger Mewburn and Pat Thomson
  2. Towards an Academic Self? Blogging During the Doctorate: Inger Mewburn and Pat Thomson
  3. Going from PhD to Platform: Charlotte Frost
  4. Academic Persona: The Construction of Online Reputation in the Modern Academy: David Marshall, Kim Barbour and Christopher Moore
  5. Academic Twitter and Academic Capital: Collapsing Orality and Literacy in Scholarly Publics: Bonnie Stewart
  6. Intersections Online: Academics Who Tweet: Narelle Lemon and Megan McPherson
  7. Sustaining Asian Australian Scholarly Activism Online: Tseen Khoo
  8. Digital Backgrounds, Active Foregrounds: Student and Teacher Experiences with ‘Flipping the Classroom’: Martin Forsey and Sara Page
  9. A Labour of Love: A Critical Examination of the ‘Labour Icebergs’ of Massive Open Online Courses: Katharina Freund, Stephanie Kizimchuk, Jonathon Zapasnik, Katherine Esteves, Inger Mewburn
  10. Digital Methods and Data Labs: The Redistribution of Educational Research to Education Data Science: Ben Williamson
  11. Interview – Sara Goldrick-Rab with Inger Mewburn
  12. Interview – Jessie Daniels with Inger Mewburn

Nalini: SHOTGUN! I NEED TO REVIEW THIS.

Kristyn is AFK, too busy writing papers and preparing for conferences to respond.

Nalini [rubs hands]: Ok! Now to hunt down a copy of the text.


Deborah Lupton on social media for researchDeborah Lupton says, ‘I see myself principally as a sociologist, but my work is often interdisciplinary, especially engaging with media, communication and cultural studies. My current position is Centenary Research Professor in the Faculty of Arts & Design, University of Canberra, Australia. For over two decades now I have written about the sociocultural dimensions of medicine and public health; risk; the body; parenting cultures and childhood; food; obesity politics and critical weight studies; and the emotions. I have authored 15 books, edited two others and published around 150 academic journal articles and book chapters on these topics.

‘My current research is focusing on digital sociology, particularly on these topics: critical digital health studies; critical data studies; self-tracking cultures; the digitisation of pregnancy, parenting and children; the sociology of 3D printing; and social media and academia.’

To contact Deborah, email her at deborah.lupton@canberra.edu.au  or see

Content republished with permission.