Twitter for Researchers

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Information about Twitter for Researchers

Published on June 14, 2013

Author: UniofYorkLibrary



A guide to why Twitter is relevant in the research environment, how it can be useful, and how to Tweet successfully.

There's a link in the presentation to the handout used in this workshop - although it was aimed at a University of York audience, it's relevant for any academics or researchers interested in using social media.

Part of the Becoming a Networked Researcher suite of workshops.

Twitter Becoming a Networked Researcher 2014 #yorksocmed Ned Potter Academic Liaison

The plan for today: explore why Twitter might be useful in the research environment, look at some research examples, set up Twitter accounts (if you don’t already have them) and discuss Tweeting well.

Please go to and fill out my one-question survey

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social network which allows users to exchange public messages of 140 characters or less, known as Tweets. It’s easy to tweet, via:

Tweets can be entirely text-based or they can contain multimedia such as images or video, and links to anything online.

It works like this: Your tweets are seen by other Twitter users who follow you; you see the tweets of users you follow. You can quickly build up a network of peers with shared interests. There are around half a billion Twitter users worldwide.


1: YOU CAN’T SAY ANYTHING IN 140 CHARACTERS. Yes you can, because Twitter is meant to be a conversation rather than a broadcast. It’s easy to ask, and answer, questions in 140 characters or less.

2: IT’S JUST PEOPLE SAYING WHAT THEY HAD FOR LUNCH. No it isn’t – only celebrities really do that, because they have so many followers that meaningful dialogue isn’t really possible. For the rest of us, it’s a conversation.

3: IT’S A WASTE OF TIME AND DOESN’T BELONG IN HIGHER EDUCATION. Twitter is definitely NOT a waste of time if you engage with the right people – it can lead to better understanding, career opportunities, collaborations, exposure, reputation. (More than 70% of academics use social media now.)

4: I DON’T HAVE TIME TO TWEET. If you have time for conversation you have time for Twitter. If it’s useful, if it helps you professionally, if it gives you ideas and tips that actually save you time, then you definitely have time!

5: THERE’S NO POINT IN MY BEING THERE AS I DON’T KNOW ANYONE ON IT. Firstly you probably do know people on it (search for your peers’ names) but secondly Twitter is a great leveller – it provides the chance to engage with people you don’t know, including the leaders in your field. (As someone said, Facebook is where you lie to your friends, Twitter is where you tell the truth to strangers.)

Why use Twitter?

Connect with your peers

Connect with your peers Twitter is a brilliant networking tool – for finding researchers with similar interests, for keeping in touch after conferences , for finding and engaging the leaders in your field.

Keeping up to date

If you follow the right people on Twitter you’ll always know when the latest papers are published, when calls for papers announced, when conferences are happening, when developments in your field are occurring, when new technology emerges which is relevant to what you do, and what’s going on in HE. Keeping up to date On Twitter, the information comes to you.

Share what you’re doing with the world

Twitter is a great way to tell people about your research outputs, your current projects, and your professional activities. Share what you’re doing with the world It can also be a brilliant funnel for all your other social media activities too – nothing is more likely to get people reading your blog (etc) than people tweeting about it.

(Highly tweeted articles are 11 times more likely to be cited than less-tweeted articles) Eyesenbach, 2011, Can tweets predict citations? Journal of Medical Internet Research 13 (4) Hat-tip to Michelle Dalton – see for more stats.

Also Twitter is FUN.

Time to get started. Go to and follow the instructions in PART 1 the handout, Setting Up Your Account.

Hello, Slideshare! You can find Time to get started. the handout we used in the Go to and follow the instructions in PART 1 just click session on Scribd – the handout, Setting Up Your Account. the screen to go straight there…

THREE quotes about Twitter

It's like proprioception, your body's ability to know where your limbs are. That subliminal sense of orientation is crucial for coordination: It keeps you from accidentally bumping into objects, and it makes possible amazing feats of balance and dexterity. Twitter and other constant-contact media create social proprioception. They give a group of people a sense of itself, making possible weird, fascinating feats of coordination. Clive Thompson

In the end, the value of Twitter for academics is what you make of it. So, can academics manage without Twitter? Of course they can. But the better question might be “What can academics manage with Twitter?” I find thinking about that question to be much more exciting. Carole McGranahan

Twitter is a profoundly practical service and yet it is difficult to convey this because much of the terminology, interface and minutiae of Twitter are inherently confusing until you have engaged with the service. So why should you make the leap? The only reason I can give is that people just like you are finding the service astoundingly useful. Mark Carrigan

Click the pic for some more academic perspectives

is perhaps the tool for recording useful Twitter discourse

How it works:

Key concepts defined

Tweet: your tweet is your message. 140 characters. Seen by a: your followers who happen to be online at the time and b: anyone who happens to look at your profile, and potentially c: by the followers of anyone who ReTweets it. ReTweet: if you RT someone else’s tweet, it will appear in your timeline and your followers can see it. Being ReTweeted yourself is a really good thing – it means your ideas are being exposed to new networks.

@reply: you can converse directly with someone by putting their username (beginning with @) into your tweet – this will ensure the tweet shows up in their ‘@ replies’. Your tweets will be seen by anyone following both you AND the person with whom you’re conversing. (In other words, you don’t see every tweet from every person you follow – Twitter filters out the noise.)

Hashtag: a #hashtag is a way to bring together disparate users on the same topic, without the tweets needing to know each other alredy. Hashtags can also be a way to archive conversations on a theme, and discuss events or conferences. You can click on any #hashtag (for example #altmetrics) and find all recent tweets which have included it. Direct Message: a DM is a private message, within the network, which only you and the recipient see.

E.g. Academic Tweeters

Find Tweeters by discipline:

Departmental tweeters: @uniofyork is the main account of the University @UoYLibrary is the Library’s account @UoYITServices is the IT services account @RDT_York is the Researcher Development Team account @TFTV_YORK is the TFTV account, one of the many Departments on Twitter @UoYEvents is the account for Events at York @UoY_Yorkshare is the VLE team’s account Wider HE tweeters: @timeshighered is the Times Higher’s very active account @lseimpactblog is the LSE Impact Blog’s account (don’t be put off by the name, it’s relevant to all researchers interested in Web 2.0 tools) @gdnhighered is the Guardian’s Higher Education account

Some researchers explain why they find Twitter useful Pete Smith:

Some researchers explain why they find Twitter useful Lauren Smith:

Some researchers explain why they find Twitter useful Jon Tennant:

Some researchers explain why they find Twitter useful Kellie Jaremko – why I love Twitter as a scientist:

Some researchers explain why they find Twitter useful Kellie Jaremko – why I love Twitter as a scientist:

Some researchers explain why they find Twitter useful Kellie Jaremko – why I love Twitter as a scientist:

Some researchers explain why they find Twitter useful Kellie Jaremko – advice for Tweeting

More hands-on time. Follow the instructions in PART 2 the hand-out, Exploring Twitter further.

Tweeting well

Above all, remember it’s not about broadcasting, it’s about conversation!

Consider the 1 in 4 rule* Tweets directly about your work

Consider the 1 in 4 rule* A ReTweet? A reply? Tweets directly about your work A link to something useful? *actually it’s more of a guideline…

Try not to think of it as purely personal or purely professional – it works better when it’s both.

Try not to think of it as purely personal or purely professional – it works better when it’s both. (Personally I think it works well when you major in professional and minor in personal…)

Embrace the smartphone! (Soon there will only BE smartphones so you may as well get started now.)

Embrace the smartphone! (Soon there will only BE smartphones so you may as well get started now.) Tweet from conferences (including pictures), converse on the train, reply in the supermarket queue. Twitter doesn’t have to be something you MAKE TIME for.

Don’t just make statements, ask questions.

You need to actually tell people you’re there.

You need to actually tell people you’re there. @username on your business cards on your PowerPoint presentations on your name-badge at conferences in your email signature

Any questions, comments, ideas, plans?

Thanks for coming! More on ‘Becoming a Networked Researcher’ can be found at The RDT webpages are at The slides (with a link to an online version of this hand-out) can be found at Absolutely every picture via

#yorksocmed presentations

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