Online Tools for Academics at Conferences

I am presenting a session at the #PhDjourney conference about social media and the PhD on Wednesday. I will post my slides and information after the talk, but as I was preparing I thought I would put together a list of useful online tools for keeping up with what is going on (and remembering what has happened) at conferences.

Please add any suggestions and thoughts.

Facebook - conferences usually have a facebook page, which can be useful before the conference to connect with people and learn more about what will be happening at the conference (and useful for keeping up to date, when full programmes are announced). Find the page by searching facebook for the conference, or looking for a facebook link on the conference website. Facebook is of limited use during the conference as you will only be able to see official updates from the organisers and/or posts from people you know at the conference. A facebook can be a good way of sharing blogs and other posts after the conference.

Twitter - hashtags e.g. #phdjourney can be used to follow any discussions that are happening at the conference, about the conference and by conference organisers. The conference itself should have a twitter account that you can follow for updates (like facebook). Individual sessions may have their own hashtags which can be followed as the sessions are happening. This way, if you know the hashtag you will never need to miss a conference session again! You can interact with the tweeters and even get delegates that are tweeting at the session to ask questions on your behalf at the session if you tweet in time. This method relies on people tweeting from the session in a way that allows you to follow and understand the talk and discussion. Twitter can be used at the conference to make new contacts, and conferences can be a great way of meeting people you already tweet. Create lists of people who are tweeting from the conference and follow all their activity through the list. You can also block a hashtag, which is handy if you have a lot of people tweeting from a conference at once.

Storify - Storify can be used to collate tweets (by searching by the hashtag) and other social media posts about conference topics and sessions into one readable online document. Really easy to use. The document can then be shared on twitter, or embedded into blogs. Storify can handily notify all the people who have tweeted about the session too (if you include tweets from them in your storify). If you do want to storify, I find it easiest to storify a session as you go, otherwise you might find it difficult to find all of the content. There are some tools that allow you to search on twitter see here.

Topsy - Topsy collates information about a search topic from twitter and the web. So you can search for a conference name/hashtag and get all the web posts and tweets that relate to your search term. Great for looking at online content and tweets. Click 'experts' on the left hand side and get a list of tweeters who have a number of mentions.. follow them on twitter and you are likely to pick up a lot of content related to the conference/topic.

- Slideshare - Share slides online...!

For keeping in contact with people you meet at the conference I find following them on twitter and adding them on linkedin is the best solution. I haven't managed to get round to finding any handy tools that beat writing a bit of information including their twitter @ on the back of their business card for remembering who I have met where, and who they are!

If you are sharing things from a conference talk or session, try and ask the speaker before sharing anything. If they are sharing new results, they might not want them splashed all over the internet...


  1. Great suggestions!

    What about Delicious/another social bookmarking platform to save relevant links from the talks or the links to the talks themselves? It makes it easy to share with students, colleagues, etc.

    You could try Evernote to make digital notes wrt who you've met, what they do, their twitter @, etc. And any project/research ideas that come to you during the conference.


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