Saturday, July 20, 2013

Twitter for Academics

While Twitter usage remains low among academics, microblogging is likely to increase over time.  Those using it are finding there are particular benefits, especially in association with other social media channels.  The 140 character limitation means that Twitter is best used to announce publications, events, and new research - but obviously unable to provide much information other than links to blogs, websites, or documents that have been posted to the web.  But this serves to increase the visibility of your work if used strategically.  The following will briefly mention how Twitter can be used by academics for scholarly communications by drawing upon some existing web resources.

The blog, Savage Minds Backup, mentions a few specific benefits of Twitter such as:

  • Announcing new research, publications, conferences, and discussion
  • Community building
  • Access to archived conversations
  • Personal curation of scholarly materials
  • Rapid dissemination

If you are an existing user of Twitter, you will recognize that these benefits take time and are a function of building a group of followers interested in your content.  You’ll likely find many Twitter users with similar research interests who will not only be interested in what you are posting, but also help to build your base of followers by retweeting and favoriting what you have to say.

A few LSE reports provide some excellent information on using social media, such as Twitter.  The report provides six helpful suggestions about Twitter, which help to improve the effectiveness of your tweets.  These also demonstrate how Twitter work in combination with other types of communications and social media.

  • Follow others with similar interests
  • Promote your Twitter profile on your email signature, business card, blog, presentations, etc.
  • For research projects, tweet about progress and not just the completed project
  • Point to other materials like presentations at scribd, authorstream, slideshare, etc.
  • Use it with blogging to promote blogs and allow others to share your content
  • Use it for classes to communicate with students for updates, announcements, etc.

Another resource is Kathrine Linzy’s “Twitter for Academics”.  Along with some of the other Twitter concepts previously mentioned, a few that she offers include:

  • Use Twitter to publicize your work
  • Point to other resources (links, tweets, documents, etc.)
  • Consider your on-line personality/identity

Your overall process and online strategy help to develop your professional identity, which means that you should consider whether your audience will be academics in your discipline or a broader audience. Many academics choose to keep personal and professional accounts separate due to the nature of the content and whether it is being used to enhance their professional identity and academic visibility.

Using other scholarly communications tools such as Mendeley, Google Scholar Citations, CiteULike, ResearchGate,, LinkedIn, or Facebook are useful in conjunction with Twitter. Several of these can be used to store and track your citations which are good ways to share your scholarship.  Tracking activity through these platforms is the basis of “altmetrics” which will be discussed in a later post.

Note: See also How to Use Twitter for Business (HubSpot). It is directed at business but the same concepts apply to scholarly communications.


  1. ¿No es extraño que siendo Twitter una plataforma que solo aguante 140 caracteres sea tan ampliamente usada, si lo que a la gente le gusta es hablar?


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