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Scientists, Meet #Twitter!

Twitter is a social media platform sometimes referred to as a “microblog” due to the 280 character limit of a single tweet. It has become popular for its capacity to rapidly disseminate ideas. In newsworthy moments, it can often be a more expedient information source than news networks themselves. For example, rapid adoption of hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #MeTooSTEM have resulted in global social movements.

Concerns about Twitter include occasionally questionable reliability due to the proliferation of artificial accounts called “bots”. Even so, the rapid dispersal and growth of content via Tweets make it an effective mechanism for sharing research and professional development. Indeed, Twitter’s greatest benefit for scientists may lie in its capacity to help Early-Career Professionals (ECPs), especially those identifying as marginalized, to find and cultivate a community that extends beyond scientists within their immediate professional circle or geographical range.



Tailor Your Twitter Bio:

Use your profile description (a.k.a. Twitter Bio) to represent what you are hoping to bring to Twitter – whether that’s your research expertise, your academic philosophy, your values, and/or your personality.

Determining if your Twitter will be Professional, Personal, or somewhere in between:

Twitter can be a great way to meet potential collaborators, and thus it can be important to be mindful of how you represent yourself on the platform. This means that you may decide to only tweet about specific topics or follow/retweet specific accounts. For example, despite how informal Twitter seems, you may want to develop a personal policy about swearing.

Ultimately, it’s up to you. There is a wide spectrum of academics on Twitter with many different styles, and that’s a good thing! Some go about their account not posting anything, solely using it to keep track of papers from journal articles or current events. Find a style that works best for you based on your needs, which will likely exist by the example of other profiles.

Tweeting About Research:

When you share a factoid provide a link to a credible source. Not only is this standard academic practice, but it also helps connect viewers outside of your specialty (and outside academia) to your source AND gives credibility to what you’re tweeting. Linking to sources may also help keep trolls at bay. Sharing your opinions is also okay, of course, but be prepared to engage in a respectful discussion.

You could also consider sharing a picture that you took or a compelling visual as part of your tweet. This is a great way to enhance your tweet and broaden its reach but don't forget to credit the person who took the photo or designed the visual!