Using Social Media and Web-Based Networking in Collaborative Research: Protocol for the Geriatric Medicine Research Collaborative

Geriatric Medicine Research Collaborative, Joanne Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Traditional pathways to promote research collaboration typically take years to expand beyond individual institutions. Social media and online networking provide an innovative approach to promote research collaboration.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this paper is to present the formation of the Geriatric Medicine Research Collaborative, United Kingdom - a national trainee-led research collaborative. This collaborative aims to facilitate research projects that will directly benefit older patients, improve research skills of geriatric medicine trainees, and facilitate recommendations for health care policy for older adults.

METHODS: Our methods of collaboration comprised trainee-led meetings regionally and at national conferences, email communication, direct uploading of project material to our website, social media, and virtual meetings. Structured use of local, regional, and network leads has facilitated this collaboration. Having a clear virtual presence has been the key to the rapid development of the network.

RESULTS: The use of social media and online networking encouraged the involvement of multiple regions early in the development of the collaborative and allowed rapid dissemination of project ideas. This facilitated the collection of large datasets and enhanced scientific validity of project outcomes. Furthermore, this has the potential to transform geriatric medicine research, as older patients have been historically excluded from large commercial trials due to multimorbidity, frailty, and cognitive impairment.

CONCLUSIONS: Perceived limitations to predominantly online or virtual collaboratives, including reduced accountability, and loss of interpersonal relationships are balanced by increased trainee engagement, high frequency of communication, and rapid access to a breadth of expertise. Utilization of virtual communication has the potential to lead to future interspecialty, interprofessional, and international collaboration, and to accelerate research that improves outcomes for older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e179
JournalJMIR research protocols
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2018


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