Friday, 23 March 2012

Twittering, not skiving

Posted by Bronia Arnott

I work in an open-plan office. A quick saunter to the coffee room is all it takes to find out who’s working and who’s on Facebook. Sometimes I find myself furtively opening up Twitter and hoping that nobody thinks I’m skiving. Because it is work, really…

Ollie the Twitter bird

Twitter is my social networking tool of choice. I have my own personal account and I also tweet alongside colleagues on the Reflect project account. We also use it to connect with others, including relevant government departments and charities. We use Twitter to share new posts on our blog and update our followers on recent news including publications.

There is evidence that tweets can increase citations of research papers. It’s called Twimpact of course. Some of this effect is through other networks of academics who follow each other on Twitter. But I know that in my case I also have a number of friends and other ‘normal people’ who follow my account and read, favourite and re-tweet my work. In some cases I even think it is because they genuinely find what I have to say interesting or useful, and don’t just feel sorry for me and my boring job.

The benefit of Twitter for non-researchers is that you can keep up to date with recent research without reading hefty journal articles – let the academics on twitter do that for you. And because tweets are limited to 140 characters even normally verbose researchers are forced to focus on the message, not the caveats!

I think the true value of Twitter has yet to be mined, however. In our project we hope to use social networking sites to link participants to our study in the next few years. A great example of innovative use of Twitter is the TWeetAsyouGO project which links up people investigating transport habits through the use of a common hashtag (#TWAGO)

If you are already on Twitter, you can find a number of Fuse members active on the site. Fuse also has an official @fuse_online Twitter stream.

If you are not already on Twitter yourself why not give it ago? You might find out that we are not a bunch of twits.

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