Citing Social Media Sources

Recently I read an article on Teach Thought about the proper way to use social media as a source when conducting research. I was intrigued to see that there was actually a format setup for both APA and MLA style formats for how to reference social media.

The chart for this:

how-to-cite-social-media

The display of these sources seems to work in line with the associated format and publication style mentioned. The article details how APA has setup a style guide associated with using social media sources and offers it to the public for a small fee, but MLA hasn’t expressly released a style guide associated with social media sources.

I wanted to take a look at whether or not individuals who are writing scholarly articles should be considering the usage of social media within their research. I’m to understand there is no differentiation with respect to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, etc. and that all social media could in theory be used for research purposes, only if a few are mentioned in the chart.

I wanted to take a look at the pros and cons of using social media sources from the perspective of scholarly journal writing.

Pros:

  • Social media offers the most recent resources you can find. Often when conducting research this is one of the primary concerns of publications, that an article features more recent references than a collection of older literature.
  • Social media is always on. You always have access to social media, as long as you have an internet connection through your phone or computer. You don’t have to worry about a database being down for maintenance in the way you might in other search situations.
  • Social media offers more content than any other search tool. Every second on social media thousands of posts are being created and published. Journals on the other hand will be published, at best, once a month and only feature a handful of articles.
  • Social media offers a wide range of opinions. In the internet age individuals are more able to express themselves. If you are studying a certain topic you may find a more wide array of opinions on social media than you would through journals, textbooks and more traditional norms.

Cons:

  • Anyone can get on social media. I know a friend’s daughter who is two and knows how to use YouTube quite well. There is nothing to stop her from publishing a comment on YouTube if her mother is logged in. What this boils down to is that the sources on social media may not be vetted as they would be through a review of a publication.
  • Accuracy may not exist on social media. Since everyone is able to produce content on social media you may find that there are multiple opinions on the same topic all claiming to be factual.
  • Social media offers more content than any other search tool. While this is a pro, it is also a con. It will take a keen eye and a lot of time to sift through the extensive content published on social media. Your search terms have to be perfect for everything to work for you. Too broad a search results in too many results, but too specific a search results in no results.
  • Using social media as a source for research has not been studied, so it is difficult to determine how successful using social media sources might be or if there is any adverse impacts from using social media as resource when conducting research.

 

In browsing YouTube I found an in depth video that discusses using social media for research and ties in to many factors.

 

Overall, my view point at this time is that it may be far more productive to use social media to promote your research than it would be to conduct it.

MS OFFICE, Open Office or Google Docs?

When I was in high school the only option for word processing, spreadsheets, etc. was using Microsoft Office. Many years have gone by and new competitors are emerging that could potentially eliminate MS OFFICE from the classroom altogether in the future.

This blog post will examine the pros and cons of MS OFFICE, Open Office and Google Docs with respect to how they can be used within the classroom for the most efficiency.

MS OFFICE:

Pros:

  • MS OFFICE is a well established brand
  • MS OFFICE has countless databases and resources that can be used for troubleshooting purposes
  • Microsoft is run by Bill Gates who wants to improve education
  • Microsoft gives bulk deals to school districts purchasing licenses
  • MS OFFICE has been most commonly used with most students growing up

Cons:

  • MS OFFICE is an expensive product
  • School districts may not need all aspects of MS OFFICE, but it is actually cheaper to purchase packages with multiple software programs than purchasing one program at a time
  • Newer and younger students are not being introduced to MS OFFICE any more

Open Office:

Pros:

  • Open Office is FREE
  • Open Office features similar products to MS OFFICE [Writer vs. Word, Calc vs. Excel, Impress vs. PowerPoint]
  • Open Office allows you to use the same file extensions as Google Docs and MS OFFICE
  • Open Office has strong support like MS OFFICE with various resources available

Cons:

  • Not everyone has Open Office. If you save a file with an Open Office extension and try to open it on another computer you will need to install Open Office on that computer.
  • Open Office requires you to download a language pack if you’re not an English speaker/writer
  • Open Office has a forum that is currently unstable at this time

Google Docs:

Pros:

  • Google Docs is FREE for anyone with a Google account
  • Google Docs, like Open Office, offers programs similar to MS OFFICE programs
  • Google Docs offers Forms making it perfect for educational use
  • Google Docs is a great tool for collaboration
  • Google Docs is currently being presented in the classroom the way MS OFFICE used to be
  • Google Docs features many Add Ons

Cons:

  • Google Docs, like most Google products, have limited help resources. Most of the help resources for Google Docs have been published by users of Google Docs.
  • Google Docs privacy settings must be setup correctly to prevent unauthorized usage
  • Google Docs settings need to be setup correctly for successful collaboration

My Overall Summary:

I have used all three of these products at one point or another. The major plus I see for MS OFFICE is that it is still on nearly every computer on the market today, including in libraries and school districts. The major drawback is that MS OFFICE is very expensive and since a new version comes out often at times it seems as though it isn’t worth paying more for the newer version.

I truthfully see myself using Open Office and Google Docs more and more. Open Office is great tool for me since it is essentially a free version of MS OFFICE. The only issue is that it is only on one of my laptops, so if I save a file in Open Office extensions I have to make sure I modify the file on the laptop that has Open Office. Not a big deal, but something to consider.

I find Google Docs is probably the best tool to use for collaboration, especially for coursework. So long as you have a Google account you can invite who can edit documents with you and leave it at that. Google Docs also features Forms which are perfect for use in various classroom situations and numerous Add Ons work well with Google Docs. This allows me and many others to complete various tasks right within Google Docs.

I feel in the upcoming years MS OFFICE will become a thing of the past and Google Docs will likely take over. Google Docs will just need to build a database/pool of resources for usage like Open Office and MS OFFICE have to be the undisputed king.