Some of my colleagues often asked me what I am doing on Twitter. Below are some of my answers.
Twitter, the micro-blogging platform may be viewed as fascinating for some people but also frightening and boring for others. It is certainly a controversial subject. But Twitter is a diamond in the rough for the scientific community: keeping up with current research in real time, follow conferences, improve your professional network, bibliography search,…
This post does not aim to be a scientist’s guide to social media in general and to Twitter in particular. The objective is simply to share my experiences as a scientist in social media. As Zen Faulkes (@DoctorZen) quite rightly stated here : ‘Everything that happens on social media has been happening at conference for as long as there have been conference (informal conversations). Social media is just the biggest research conference in the world’.
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1- A bibliography search tool
1b- Keeping up using Twitterbots. An increasing number of people are exploring the use of twitterbots for more productive academic purposes (for more info see here a great explanation by @caseybergman). For example, I have a list of domain-specific literature bots here.
1c- The keyword search. Twitter has of course a search engine. Simply use keyword search as you would search Google or Pubmed. Below is an example with ‘CRISPR’.
1d- Sharing information. Twitter is particularly well suited to sharing information from your own scientific readings. A classical tool in your Twitter belt is the ability to share a link (and a photo) to the article.
1e- #icanhazpdf. The famous hashtag used to coordinate the exchange of scholarly papers. Suppose that you need a certain journal article but do not have a subscription to the journal. Anyone who notices checks to see if they have access, such as via their university’s institutional subscriptions, and if they do, they download the article and send it to you.
2- To keep you updated and engaged
2a- Outreach from scientific conferences. Looking for a forthcoming conference? Many scientific societies that organized academic conferences are on twitter: CSHL meetings, Keystone Symposia, Cell Symposia. 2014 saw the increased interaction with many conference twitter accounts with delegates actively tweeting about the meetings. For example with the Annual scientific meeting of the Australian diabetes society @ADS ADEA.
2a-bis Conference live-tweeting. Twitter lends itself particularly well to sharing information from a conference and live-tweeting is a growing trend. Live-tweeting is simply when twitter users tweet key points from presentations that they attend at conferences. Just follow the hashtag for the conference.
2b- Funding opportunities and notices. Many funding opportunities can be found on Twitter.
2c- Pharma and biotech companies. Find company information such as new products, promotional items.
2d- Career opportunities. Many principal investigators do advertises their PhD and postdoctoral positions on Twitter.
3- Help, share, discuss
3a- Lauching a new topic. Do you have a particular question ? Is there any specific topic you would like to discuss ? Twitter is the place to be for the scientific community.
3b- Direct contact. Do you have a particular question for a biotech company ? Ask directly your question via Twitter. Communication is faster than ever.
3c- Promoting your research. Publicise yourself, promote and present your work, your papers, your blog. Twitter is as a global science communication tool.
3d- Networking. Having real-time scientific discussions from your bedroom with people across the world, conversations that you would not necessarily have otherwise, expending your network.
4- Further reading