Tweeting for Academics
Social media is often seen as a source of procrastination, a distraction from our PG research. Yet, some social media can be useful for academics! Twitter is a “microblogging” platform, where users can post short comments (140 characters, recently extended to 280 characters long) to their followers. Although Twitter is full of funny memes and gifs, it’s also a hub of academic activity! Personally, I am a huge fan of the Twitter academic community online, and I’d like to share a few examples of the perks of Twitter for academics/PGRs!
One recent development in the Twitterverse is Twitter conferences. These conferences, such as the annual British Ornithological Society Twitter conference (#BOU17TC), are very accessible, given that you only need an internet connection and a Twitter account to join in! Abstracts can be submitted to the organisers and a programme is made, just like any normal conference. The only difference is presenters are allocated a number of tweets where in order to present research, instead of a powerpoint presentation. The best thing about Twitter conferences is that they are free!
Many academic journals (such as @IBIS_journal, an ornithology journal) also have Twitter accounts, so you can follow for updates on the latest papers to be published and then share these with your followers. Arguably, there’s no need for email subscriptions to journals anymore!
As a PGR student, it can sometimes feel like you’re very alone with problems in your research. However, one browse through the hashtag #PhDChat or #AcademicTwitter, and you suddenly feel much less lonely! There is a huge community of PhD students on Twitter and it’s a great place to find mutual support for your studies. There are also hashtags for many different disciplines on Twitter where you can find researchers and resources in your field, such as #FishSci for fish biologists and #Twitterstorians for historians.
Hashtags can also be great fun! The Science Twitter community is especially famous for its amusing hashtags, such as #FieldworkFail, #DoesItFart, and #ScientistsWhoSelfie. The recent #ReviewForScience tag, where hundreds of academics shared their Amazon-style reviews for everyday objects used in research, started after I posted an amusing review of a tea strainer that I found on Amazon. #ReviewforScience caught on and ended up with me being interviewed over the phone by several science journalists, and made it to BuzzFeed, BBC Radio 4 and the Washington Post. So, you never quite know what opportunities might find you on Twitter!
Rotation curation accounts are accounts where one person takes over the tweeting on that account per week. There are many you can get involved in, such as @BioTweeps for biologists, @realscientists for scientists of all disciplines, and @IAmSciComm for science communicators. If you’re a humanities PGR, @WeTheHumanities is a great rotation curation account for arts and humanities researchers.
Jobs & Resources
A surprisingly large number of job openings for PhDs, postdoc positions and research assistantships are advertised on Twitter! Adverts are usually posted by the person hiring, so you could end up responding to them directly. Many societies also have Twitter profiles for sharing funding and fellowship deadlines as well.
Of course, as it’s Twitter, there is some light relief from academic work in the form of meme accounts. @AcademiaObscura, @AcademicsSay, @LegoGradStudent and @GameofAcademics are all amusing, relatable Twitter accounts to check out when you need a chuckle!
Although Twitter can be very useful for us PGRs, we should take care not to procrastinate on it too much… as with everything else, social media should be used in moderation!
Do you use social media for academic purposes? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us at @UofG_PGRBlog!