My last post looked at whether uni students should be using twitter. It’s a massively resounding yes from me in case you haven’t read the post.
This time around I’m going to talk about why I think academics and researchers should be using twitter.
In a nutshell, twitter is quick and simple to use, a great way to meet your peers and experts in your field (academic or not), and a great place to seek advice and information (and yes, there is a keyword search function).
There is also evidence that clearly shows that using twitter to share your publications means they are more widely read and cited, with highly tweeted articles being more than 11 times more likely to be cited than less-tweeted articles.
And if you aren’t yet convinced, then let me remind you that twitter is a fabulous way to:
- generate ideas
- find jobs
- recruit research participants – and generate interest in your research
- collect data
- identify funding and grant opportunities
- disseminate findings and papers.
I love this infographic – a succinct way of showing the benefits of using twitter in terms of publication and communication.
For academics and researchers who also have a teaching component in their role, twitter can also help by:
- being a source to search for the most current materials on your topic
- boost engagement in lectures
- improving your writing skills – twitter doesn’t allow for rambling!
- allowing your students to find each other (and find you) and create communities among themselves which has the potential to improve their learning experience
- giving you a forum to more easily ask questions of experts and peers who may not be as willing or available to reply by email or answer the phone.
So if you’re an academic or research not on twitter (or on twitter, but not really sure about it yet!), this is what you need to do:
- sign up at www.twitter.com and fill in your bio. Add a professional looking photo. If you don’t blog, then in the website bit add the link to your personal page at your university so people can find out more about you
- follow people – twitter allows you to find who you know on twitter by matching email addresses from your address book to their database. You can choose who of these you wish to follow. Also consider following people who interest you – this might include other academics and researchers, your students and non-academic colleagues, industry professionals, industry associations, journalists, people who share your non-work interests and hobbies – for a good laugh make sure you follow @LegoAcademics (hint: consider also following interesting people the people you follow are following)
- follow relevant hashtags based on your field of interest – you can search for hashtags within twitter
- start conversations with people you follow so you can start building useful and interesting networks
- ask questions to do with your field of research
- join twitter chats in your field of interest
- follow relevant rotation curation accounts – one of my favourites is @WePublicHealth – a different public health expert every week to learn from. I also love @WeareAustralia and @WeareBrisbane
- follow relevant conference hashtags – and if you are at a conference, then live tweet it. A great way to learn the latest information in your field without having to leave home
- discuss issues, debate and seek public opinion in your area of interest – also, a great way to meet new people
- share your expertise by sharing links to your work, links to other people’s work, commenting on relevant topics related to your field
- most importantly however is that you are social. Twitter is SOCIAL media. Its purpose is for people to engage, share and talk to each other. So please, please, please, make sure you do.
Twitter has an amplification effect. The more academics who are using it, and following each other, the more likely your work is to be shared. And this makes it easier for you and your colleagues to keep up with what is going on in your field.
Are you an academic or researcher? Are you using twitter? How has it helped you with your work? If you’re not, why not??