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Why you should be using Twitter

Twitter is an excellent place for researchers and academics. Not only can you easily share and promote your research, but you can also be kept up to date with conferences and grant deadlines within your field of interest. Twitter also enables you to view other research publications in your area quickly, along with recent, relevant news stories.

The most important thing to remember with Twitter is that you don’t have to speak to listen. If you prefer, you don’t have to ‘tweet’ about your research; you can simply listen in on what other researchers are talking about.

What our researchers are saying

“The main thing is that you can outreach and communicate with a wider audience. You get brief updates of what is going on in the research field as it is very quick and easy to use when you have a minute over coffee! I also find tweets about funding opportunities and deadlines act as a useful reminder. I used Twitter quite a bit at the conference I was at this week. There was no way to attend every session but twitter allows you to hear some of the highlights and share opinions.” @DrEmilyG Dr. Emily Goodall, MND Post-Doctoral Researcher Associate, SITraN, UK

“I use Twitter to follow both the MND Association and ALSA. It allows me to keep up to date with things going on with both charities as I can quickly scan through their tweets for updates without the hassle of scrolling through each of their websites. Unfortunately I did not attend the symposium last year. However, it was through twitter that I initially saw that the abstracts for the meeting had been published via a link tweeted by the MND Association, I may not have known otherwise.”Ms. Victoria Pugh, PhD Student, University of Reading, UK

Sharing is caring

Why would you share your research online? If you post links to your research articles on Twitter, along with a quote, a brief catchy title or even a headline of what it is about, this will increase the number of viewings, and downloads for that article (potentially increasing citations)! You can even include ‘keywords’ as ‘hashtags’ to broaden your audience.

Presenting at a conference? Use the conference ‘hashtag’ (eg #ENCALS) to link to your backlog of published work. This gives those at the conference, or those just following updates, a background of what you’ll be talking about.

You can even dig out your old research and share it on Twitter. A recent news story may have links to an article you previously published – link them together and share this!

When sharing links to your articles, always think ‘why would someone read this?’ because you need to make the text you include exciting and interesting to your readers.

You can also write about the context of your paper and how this relates to the general public, or the ‘real world’ in more detail by means of a blog. This means you can share more about your paper, why you did the research and what it means. Blogs are longer than ‘tweets’ but you can use Twitter to publicise them to a wider audience by using a short, catchy headline.

Open access

Open access articles are not only freely available, but have a higher citation impact (as reported by Hajjem, Harnad and Gingras, 2005, IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin, 28, (4), 39-47 this can be often as high as 172%!) Since most scientific research is still published in subscription-only journals, self-archiving, when legally possible, offers an excellent alternative and an academic author should not be shy about promoting any work openly available on repositories or other sites.

“Publish or perish” used to be the old saying of academic and scientific research, now “promote what you publish or perish” is becoming the norm.

Joining social networks (like Twitter) for the first time (at the current stage of their development) might seem daunting for many, which is why many still feel that social media adoption is for the younger generation, which excludes many academics.

However, researchers in their twenties are not necessarily the ones using social media for research purposes. Instead, the 35 – 44 year olds are the most active social media age group, particularly with regards to Twitter in which the average user is 39 years old. This makes Twitter a very sophisticated ‘grown up’-type of social media which actually includes the older generation, more so than many may have previously thought.


The most important skill as a researcher is said to be ‘networking’ and social networks like Twitter enable you to network quickly and internationally. Researchers can ask questions specifically to the research community with regards to collaborations, equipment and problem solving – widening their research network!

You can also talk and network with specific groups of people by using the Twitter hashtags such as #phdchat for PhD researchers and #MND for the MND community.

“Previously when researchers had a question they asked their research group or someone their supervisor knew. Nowadays, thanks to Twitter you can instantly ask a question internationally. Connecting researchers around the globe!”@NicolWatson Dr. Nicol Watson, Regional Marketing Development Manager, Life Technologies, UK

Further information

Get started on Twitter today by following these five simple steps from my previous blog post. Or  see this great Twitter guide, which is specifically written for academics and researchers, and can be downloaded here

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