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Keeping up-to-date with the law: Social networks

Tips for keeping up-to-date with the law in your research area

Introduction: Social media

Social media can be an effective means of keeping up-to-date with legal news and events as well as increasing your academic network.This part of the guide gives suggestions on how you could use the most popular networks to keep up-to-date with changes in your research area.

To get the most out of social media it's best to participate in the "networking" aspect of them. They shouldn't just be seen as passive tools for gathering news and updates, but also as a means of getting involved in the debate, discussing or publishing your research and making a name for yourself.

There are many excellent online guides that highlight the benefits of engaging in online networking for scholars and academic researchers. Here are a few suggestions for further reading.

Durham University: Social media for researchers

University of British Columbia: Creating & managing an academic profile

Vitae: Handbook of social media for researchers and supervisors

Twitter

Many different people in the legal world use Twitter including students, researchers, legal practitioners, librarians, law schools, publishers, and journalists. This part of the guide provides tips on finding people to follow on Twitter.

Who to follow?

Who do your colleagues follow? Is your PhD supervisor on Twitter? Is a well respected author / scholar / lecturer in your subject area on Twitter? Is your favourite law journalist on Twitter? Is your law school or law library on Twitter? If so, who do they follow? Who follows them? Whose tweets do they retweet? Before you decide whether to follow someone you can view their Twitter profile to see previous tweets they have sent. Ask yourself whether you would be interested in receiving this kind of tweet.

Want to start tweeting yourself? Simon Fraser Univeristy has written a useful guide to get you started: Twitter for academics: your starter guide

Facebook

Facebook is a well-known social networking site and many people use it to keep in touch with friends. However you can also use it to network with like-minded researchers and to keep up-to-date with the latest news, events and research from academic institutions and other organsations.

Legal publishers are well represented on Facebook and this can be a useful method of keeping up-to-date with developments to online services, and new publications. Here are some examples of Facebook pages from some of the largest legal publishers:

ICLR

HeinOnline

Lexis Nexis UK

If you are attending a conference or seminar, you will often find a dedicated Facebook page where you can get in touch with the organisers, network with other attendees or just to find out more information about the event.

LinkedIn

Though LinkedIn is often associated with networking in the commercial sector, many academics have an active presence. Many academics post papers and presentations for other users to view.

Academia.edu

Academia.edu is a networking site for academics. You can use it to create a profile, upload your publications, add research areas of interest to you and read publications by other academics. Once you start following people or research areas, you will be informed each time a new research paper is uploaded to the site.  

Social Science Research Network (SSRN)

The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is a collaborative database of research papers set up to encourage the early distribution of research results. SSRN distributes submitted abstracts and full text papers from scholars around the world. SSRN's content is divided into Subject Area Networks. The Network for law is called the Legal Scholarship Network (LSN).

Once you have signed up for an account you can upload your papers. or search for papers uploaded by others. Not all content is free and if you have signed up for a free account some papers will be greyed out. Do check whether your institution has an institutional subscription which will give you access to the paid-for content.

Mendeley

Mendeley is not just a referencing tool; it can also be used to connect with other researchers, find and share papers, find ongoing research and get involved in discussions. You can browse by discipline to find relevant people and other researchers.