Should Scientists Be Tweeting?

The article tells us there’s a growing number of science Twitterers. They consider Twitter a useful tool to share their insights about recently published papers and science presentations or discussions, as well as information about grants, careers, science policy, …

Why scientist use Twitter

A few scientist tell about the reasons why they use Twitter. For scientist Twitter is a single source where you can go to scan news and papers. Another reason mentioned is that Twitter is another source for tips on papers, often people who a scientist follows recommend papers that the scientist didn’t come across. This way the scientist feels more up to date on his science literature.
Twitter is also often used to report on interesting (or sometimes dreadful) presentations heard at a scientific conference. Because of some controversy people must sometimes obtain permission from the presenting author to use Twitter during a presentation. The main reason behind this is that unlike regular blogs or news articles, tweets have the potential to spread like wild fire.

Disseminating scientific information is a driving mission for many Twitter users.  Twitter gives scientists a way to communicate their work to non-scientists and allows anyone to see science in a way that is more accessible.

Twitter also offers other people a window into the life of a scientist. Scientist can write stories that educate and publicize
science, and more accurately explain what scientists do to lay people. Twitter and regular blogging are an effective way of telling people about your work.

Potential

The article also explains that there are still small number of science Twitters compared to the numbers of scientists who could join. This is not just the case for Twitter but also for online social networking. Part of the problem is that Twitter has a reputation for being a social venue for friends to tell each other about their daily activities. But like explained above Twitter is more than this.

Too short?

The 140-character forces people to be concise and creative and makes others more likely to read the messages. But also has some limitations like the fact that you cannot have a decent, full-blown, high-level scientific debate via Twitter messages. This might be the reason why some scientist aren’t joining Twitter, a possible alternative could be FriendFeed which allows user to post longer messages.

Thesis

Twitter is a great service to spread new papers and I’m sure the number of scientist using it will grow. The reasons why scientist are using Twitter are interesting, not only do they use the Twitter to find news and scientific papers. But they also use it as a window into their everyday research activities. Twitter also allows to communicate with non scientific people. Twitter offers search, recommendation, sharing, …

In my opinion Twitter can enable people to spread the word about a paper quickly which is a great advantage compared to the publishing in journals which might only reach a limited group of people. Discussion on Twitter about a paper might be considered an indicator of a positive or negative impact.

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5 Responses to “Should Scientists Be Tweeting?”

  1. Adrian Says:

    Thanks for sharing your insights with us! You could make your article even more interesting by providing a list, or at least selected links, to actual twitter accounts of researchers. For that sake, you can find my personal experience with research and Twitter in a recent post on my blog: Research 2.0 on Twitter.

    Shamesless self-promotion, I admit 🙂

    • stijnvdw Says:

      Hi, that’s a great idea. I’ll add a list of users or groups I’m following on Twitter and FriendFeed for my thesis. There is nothing wrong with some self-promotion 😉 I will certainly take a look at your post!

  2. Adrian Says:

    PS, what is your twitter account … cannot find “stijnvdw” on twitter 😦

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