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For many students, social media tends to undermine academic research rather than support it—after all, what student in the throes of paper writing hasn’t grasped for momentary solace in Facebook, Instagram, or the latest Studio C comedy sketch video?

But what if social media could actually help students write better papers?

Dr. Gideon Burton, an assistant professor in BYU’s English department, believes that students can harness the power of social media in exciting ways to gather what he calls “social proof.” He outlines the design thinking process of social proof as follows:

  1. Bounce ideas off friends and family: Go to the people who will listen no matter what. Get their feedback on what works and what doesn’t.
  2. Circulate “tweethis” on social media: With a little more refined idea, circulate a pithy statement, or “tweethis” on social media channels to vet the idea with a wider audience.
  3. Ask for feedback from experts: After incorporating feedback from two different channels, contact an expert in the field and see if the idea has real merit.

What have been the results of this new way to research? Do experts actually care enough to respond to undergraduate students’ undeveloped ideas? Watch the video and find out.