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How are scientists using Twitter?

09.14.2013
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Scientific researchers have been prolific users of social media.  Most of their usage has been restricted to dedicated social networks however, with the likes of Mendeley proving particularly popular.  What of Twitter?

David Shiffman from the University of Miami describes some of the advantages of using Twitter during the development of scientific papers in this paper.

He describes how the platform can allow researchers to connect quickly with one another, thus fostering interdisciplinary collaboration.  What’s more, it also allows researchers to communicate their finders to a wide audience.

“Social media, which allows information to be shared instantly around the world, gives internet-savvy scientists the ability to drastically accelerate the pace of scientific communication and collaboration,” says Shiffman, who was recently named one of the top biologists to follow on Twitter (@WhySharksMatter) by the Huffington Post.

Whilst I think the value of Twitter is limited during the research process itself, it certainly has value post-publication.  I’ve had a number of failed attempts to contact academics about their research, so being more approachable is certainly a positive thing.

If you’re a researcher looking to understand a bit more about how you can use Twitter however, Shiffman’s paper provides a good introduction.  His paper provides a number of examples of academics using the platform to support their work.

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