Supporting PhD students’ acculturation through social media: a research agenda


  • Kate Sang School of Management and Languages, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh.


The high rate of attrition from PhD programmes in Western countries is an area of growing international concern. There is some evidence that socialisation into university life can support students’ studies, via the accumulation of social capital. This study proposes a research agenda for understanding the role which social media can have in facilitating socialisation and acculturation into PhD study, and potentially reduce attrition rates. This research note suggests that a participatory action research approach can be used, which recognises the expertise of the key stakeholders, specifically PhD students, and academic staff who are engaged in supervision. A participatory approach can help to enhance the uptake of any resulting intervention, including social media. The potential benefits of the study are outlined, including supporting academics’ and PhD students’ use of social media, the impact of resulting research and increased retention of postgraduate researchers.