To boldly go…into the blogosphere

SGPhoto-1Actually PhD student Spike Gibbs didn’t boldly go…but after Trinity’s digital training workshops, you’ll be well equipped to!

In fact, medieval historian Spike Gibbs didn’t relish his digital prospects at all.

I thought social media was a personal thing and as quite a shy person I didn’t really want to engage with it.

He also feared his research, into manorial office holders in Medieval and Early Modern England, was a bit too esoteric for a broad public.

blogBut Spike was inspired by fellow researchers’ use of digital channels and galvanised by the annual Trinity Arts and Humanities Symposium, where PhD students present their research-in-progress to peers and Fellows at the College. The call for papers is now open for the 12 March symposium.

Together with other members of the Symposium committee, Julianne Piggott, Albert Fenton and Andrew Lorey, Spike realised that a blog was essential.

The committee decided that whilst the symposium is a great event, the papers wouldn’t necessarily have any life beyond the day itself. Publishing bite-sized chunks of research could not only reach new audiences but further the symposium’s aims – to help bring together what can be a dispersed arts and humanities graduate community at Trinity.

Conscious of his own misgivings about blogging and social media and lack of practical knowledge, Spike, the Symposium committee and Fellow Dr Rupert Gatti pioneered Trinity’s first digital training workshops – free lunchtime events for PhD students and Fellows of any discipline at the College.

The first workshop, Viral Research: Using Social Networks, takes place on 11 February (12-1.30pm) and features Junior Research Fellow, Dr Clare Walker-Gore, Professor Sir Timothy Gowers, Communications Officer Fiona Holland and Spike himself.

Designed to provide an introduction to blogging and social media, speakers will discuss the challenges, opportunities and practicalities of engaging your research digitally. Spike, for example, will discuss his experience setting up the Trinity Arts and Humanities Symposium Blog, @trinityarts2016 on Twitter, and his initial experiences with other blogs, such as

The 25 February workshop (12-1.30pm), Digital Dissemination: Engaging with Open Access Publishing, will feature Trinity Fellow Dr Rupert Gatti, founder of Open Book Publishers, Dr Danny Kingsley, Director of Scholarly Communications at the UL, and Professor Gowers, founder of Discrete Analysis.

After 10-minute presentations by each speaker, there will be open discussion and lunch.

Spike hopes that these workshops will give those thinking of using digital social networks the confidence to take the first – and hardest – step. After that, he says, it’s relatively easy:

I am surprised at how a ‘little and often’ approach can work – writing a blog post only takes an evening and can be a nice break from research work.

In the twenty-first century, blogging and social media are increasingly important on many levels, Spike believes:

They provide a free and effective way to reach a wide academic audience immediately and they are a great way to share your research, with hyperlinks allowing integration of other articles in a way not possible in traditional media. And they also allow us to reach a new audience – few people outside academia have time to read scholarly books and journals but a short blog post is accessible to all.


To sign up to either workshop, please email Spike Gibbs – – places are free but limited and available on a first come, first served basis.

To submit your abstract and for more information about the Trinity Arts and Humanities Symposium on 12 March, please visit:

To keep up to date with the Symposium blog, follow @trinityarts2016 


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