The nature of research students has been changing over recent years. This paper considers the issues faced by students who are undertaking a PhD either part-time or through distance learning. These students represent a growing segment of the research student numbers in the UK. However, evidence suggests that these students are at the highest risk of not completing their studies. Important threats would appear to be a sense of isolation accompanied by a lack of communication felt by the students. This paper reviews the formation of virtual teams as a means of increasing communication between students, and also introduces the notion of adopting more recent internet-based tools, wikis and blogs, to support the teams. The question which this paper seeks to address is whether the existing internet-based tools available for social interaction and collaboration are sufficient to support the needs of distance learning research students.