How To: Use Twitter for Science

January 9, 2014 | Posted by Brianne Villano in How To, Lab Admin Tools |
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My Twitter profile.

Twitter is a magical beast. It can connect people anywhere in the world. It can make or break a brand. It can bring together scientists who might never otherwise meet IRL – in real life.

Many social media channels  – Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, to name a few – accomplish all of those things as well, but each has its own use case, unintentional or designed.

Facebook – generally used for following brands, keeping up with friends and family, being a social resume where new friends can see what movies you have in common, RSVPing to events, etc.

Google+ – highly cerebral chats (if you know where to look) especially where science is concerned, establishing dominance in a field, showcasing your research comprehensively.

Pinterest – where science and art meet, a place to inspire young and old scientists alike by visually stunning research and nature images.

Twitter, however, seems to be an amalgamation of all the rest. Here are a few ways to use Twitter to your benefit.

1) Connect with people doing similar research

By using hashtags centered around research topics you’re either working on or interested in, you can follow along in the current conversations about those topics. Just search for the hashtag(s) you’re interested in and join the conversation. If you’re using a third-party client like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, you can even save these searches for long-term interest.

2) Track grants and jobs

Twitter accounts at major labs and granting institutions often tweet about new openings and upcoming grant deadlines. By adding these institutions to a list via Twitter, you can keep track of when grants are due and be first in line with your job application.

3) Befriend colleagues before a conference

Conferences who share Twitter usernames ahead of time are some of the best I’ve been to because they allow a connection to form via the internet before I’ve ever met colleagues in person. You can even make plans to share transportation or have dinner with interesting people in your field well ahead of the event itself. As an introvert, this is a conference life-saver!

4) Share exciting breakthroughs

Open access is the future and science is becoming more transparent and accessible than it’s ever been before. Sending a tweet using relevant hashtags can enable other scientists who share your research topics to be inspired – and jealous – of your recent accomplishments.

5) Display expertise in your field – host a twitter chat!

Twitter chats are simple and enable forums for discussion to occur by choosing a specialized hashtag, and letting others chime in to the conversation. Third-party platforms like TweetChat make it easy to monitor the conversation and keep up with the discussion in real-time.

Everyone uses social media differently. These are just a few of the ways Twitter can increase your engagement with other scientists in your field, both down the street and across the globe! How do you use social media?

About the author

    Brianne is dedicated to customer support and development for Science Exchange. She     is a formally trained biologist with a M.S. in Biotechnology whose past experience at           Charles River Laboratories sparked a flame for building client relationships.

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