Wi-Fi in the Ivory Tower: Reducing Isolation of the Law PhD Student Through Social Media Networks
AbstractResearch students no longer need to spend long hours on campus under the gaze of their supervisors. Ubiquitous access to online databases and communication tools means that many PhD students operate in splendid isolation, away from the bustle and distractions of campus life. But this freedom may also bring with it strong feelings of isolation from academic community and peer support. The authors of this study have commenced an inquiry into whether the connectivity and interactivity of social media can provide a vital social lifeline for research students (particularly law students who work largely independently and are not frequently part of large research teams) in order to address these feelings of isolation. The role of social media in shaping academic identity and voice is also addressed. It considers a number of significant UK studies of higher degree by research students and their relevance for Australia and outlines the results of a small pilot survey conducted in an Australian law school.
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