Using social media and web-Based networking in collaborative research: Protocol for the geriatric medicine research collaborative

Geriatric Medicine Research Collaborative

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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
Article numbere179
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This RCT will assess the effect of ferric carboxymaltose on the postoperative prescription of packed red cells compared with standard care. In addition, secondary outcomes including the length of stay, mortality, and delirium incidence will be recorded. This trial will be supported by the Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit. We are currently in the process of applying for funding, initially through the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit funding program. The protocol for this trial will be published and widely available in the future.

Funding Information:
We have described the above processes for applying for research grants for specific projects. In the same way that all collaborators who contribute toward projects are acknowledged in authorship, we have agreed on a policy that all collaborators who contribute toward project development should be listed on grant applications. The initial set-up of GeMRC was free. We utilized our own skills in website development using the free Wix server and created our own logo using Paint 3D (Microsoft Corporation, United Kingdom), which has now become highly recognizable. Our logo has been incorporated into our Google, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Periscope accounts and also added to our email signature and WhatsApp group. In addition, we used free teleconference software as described. However, we anticipate that there will be ongoing costs related to the management of GeMRC. We have successfully obtained funding from a West Midlands BGS grant to cover regional and national networking costs. All West Midlands members were listed on our initial regional grant. This has been used initially to purchase the domain name for our website and remove Wix adverts. This has improved the credibility of our collaborative and improved the ease to locate it online. Further funding will be used for patient and public involvement activities.

Funding Information:
GeMRC is an unincorporated association. Funding has been obtained for initial start-up and maintenance costs by the West Midlands BGS. Carly Welch, Lauren McCluskey, Jane AH Masoli, Hannah Moorey, Mary Ni Lochlainn, and Natalie J Cox are all funded by the NIHR. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the National Health Service, the NIHR, or the Department of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© Geriatric Medicine Research Collaborative.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • collaborative
  • geriatrics
  • social media
  • trainee-led
  • virtual communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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