A few notes up front.
• This talk is Tweetable; my Twitter handle is @ctitusbrown.
• Use hash tag #BEACON13 if tweeting this talk.
• I‟ll post these slides on slideshare.net/c.titus.brown/
• Ask questions as I go.
• What is social media & open science, and what is the
• What sites are out there, and what might you use them
• Things to think about: goals, concerns, surprises.
• Personal experiences.
• Pushback and why the haters are wrong.
• How to get started & how to keep going.
• References for further investigation.
What is social media?
• Anything where you create and/or post and/or remix
and/or forward content in a social, sharing manner.
• Mailing lists, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs,
• Useful for many things:
• Friends and family: baby pictures, link sharing, discussions.
• Professional networking.
• Resource discovery and professional discussions.
What is open science?
• Sharing scientific data, process, results, and opinions
• For example,
• Open access
• Open peer review
• Open data
• Open source
• Preprint sharing
• Scientific blogs
Social media vs open science
• You can use social media as part of an open science
• You can pursue (some) open science without social
media: preprints, Dryad, github.
• I think there‟s a natural synergy and confluence.
So: this talk.
• Social media use and open science practices are evolving
at a tremendous pace.
• Many opportunities for building your own approach.
• Excellent way to enhance your academic career; network
to find, discuss, and explore alternative career options;
and build a life you find to be worth living.
• No “one way”; all I can do is give you a rough sketch of a
map, describe what I do (and why), motivate you to start,
and help you to chart your own course.
• BEACON would (presumably) like to see you magnify
your and their scientific impact on the world!
How do I use all of these!?
• I write long articles on my blog.
• I post “in progress” code and text to github.
• I post preprints to arxiv.
• I write and respond to comments on Haldane‟s Sieve and
• I (occasionally) use figshare to generate DOIs.
• I post, kibbitz, network, and discover things on Twitter.
• (I discuss politics etc. on Facebook :)
Twitter: one forum to bind them all.
• ~2500 followers
• Show workflow
My blog: where I explore ideas at my
• Show usage stats
• Satire, opinions, commentary, reviews, ???
Github: where I store code and text
(papers, blog posts, etc.)
• Show impact story, papers
Lab Web site
• Increasingly out of date; hard to maintain.
• Post grants, papers, preprints, etc.
And how has that worked out for you, Dr.
• Very well, thank you!
• 22 invited talks last year.
• Three grants from a program manager who contacted me after
I said I needed funding in a blog post.
• A grant review in which open source and preprints were
positively mentioned as a strong reason to fund me.
• The Assemblathon2 … thing.
Social media nucleated conversations and interactions.
Side note: Serendipity & the
Assemblathon 2 review process
• The other reviewer (a friend) got jealous of the media
attention and started a “#titusischucknorris” meme on
On the downside,
• Bafflement from many administrators; even the relaxed
ones don‟t get “it”.
• Near-certain knowledge that I‟ve pissed off some people
=> negative reviews, missed opportunities, ???
• A real lack of publications :(
• Warnings from grant managers about posts and
comments. “You might not want to say that so publicly…”
Is it worth it?
Heck if I know; very hard to find strong evidence anywhere.
But it sure is fun!
Define (or at least think about) your goals
• Increased citations?
• Increased visibility for your research?
• Outlet for opinions?
• Fame? Fortune?
• Cost $$.
• Giving away trade secrets!
• Lots of extra effort
• How do you keep things up to date?
• How do you continue to produce new content?
• Being publicly wrong.
• Being ignored and irrelevant.
• Being yelled at.
• “But I don‟t like writing and I don‟t have opinions”
• Institutional rules and norms: MSU, NSF/NIH, ??
• None of these Web sites cost anything but some
• Designed to be easy to set up.
• Customization can take a lot of time, but isn‟t necessary.
Concerns: my Big Idea will be stolen!
• First: no reason you need to write about or share
• Second: don‟t you talk about unpublished research at
conferences? Where the very people who are most likely
to understand the awesomeness of your ideas, and steal
them, are present? Hmmmmmm.
• Third: most people are too busy with their own Big Ideas
to pay much attention to yours.
• Fourth: Can engage a much broader audience and
potentially find serendipitous synergy with others‟.
Concerns: Extra Effort
• Integrate it into daily routine
• Skim Twitter
• Note interesting posts for later consumption
• Write posts or long comments when so motivated.
I’d rather write half as many papers and have them be
twice as relevant.
Concerns: Maintenance & New Content
• I don’t keep things up to date, generally.
• Point people at my Google Scholar page
• Focused on production of new content.
• New blog posts
• New presentations
• Integrate production of some new content into normal
• For example, I write reviews and then (when the paper comes out)
post them to my blog.
Concerns: Being Wrong, or Irrelevant
• First: treat being wrong like you‟re in a classroom, and
• Second: be open to correction from others. Scientists are
pretty happy to help if you‟re actually seeking truth.
• Third: Isn‟t it better to find out that you‟re wrong (or
irrelevant) now rather than later?
“Fail often so you can succeed sooner.”
Concerns: Anger management online
• Yeah, people can be really unpleasant.
• People who genuinely disagree with you;
• People who are trolling you to get a reaction (from you or othres)
• No good solution here. Just don‟t escalate and don‟t be a
• Be unafraid to moderate, block, blacklist trolls, or people
who just seem out to argue in bad faith.
Concerns: I don‟t have any opinions/don‟t
• First, everyone has opinions, and most worthwhile
careers will want you to be able to express them.
• Second, most worthwhile careers involve writing.
Consider this a low visibility way to screw up a few times…
(See below advice about anonymous blogging.)
Concerns: Your university
• Universities are generally conservative, oddly enough.
• If you label your posts as “I don‟t speak for MSU” (or whatever)
and don‟t post on your .edu domain, I would otherwise ignore
your university social media rules.
• Your university will come to treasure your social media
presence at the same time as their rules officially prohibit or
• You‟re not protected against libel charges, so don‟t libel someone.
• Don‟t Be Stupid (name other faculty negatively; trash talk; discuss
• The „net has a different sense of humor than your administrators, so
don‟t be surprised if there is pushback when you‟re edgy.
Things you may not have thought of
• Sharing data is mandatory; why not maximize reusability?
• Enable serendipity.
• Signaling (and false signaling ;).
• Blogging: a family friendly way to network.
• Blogging: a way to explain your papers
• Blogging: a way to expand your career options
If you are not curating your online identity, someone or
something else is doing it for you.
• “Waste of time.”
• “Not a scholarly activity.”
• “It‟s better to work hard and get papers.”
Pushback: “waste of time”
• Can integrate much of online work with traditional efforts.
• I post my reviews.
• I find most of my papers of interest by following a small group of
people on Twitter.
• I post presentations etc after I‟m done writing them.
• Interaction with broader community, potential reviewers,
students, etc. has clearly been worth it for me.
• The world is changing…
Pushback: “Not scholarly.”
• Two definitions for “scholarly”:
• “What we know how to think about” – a conservative definition that
stifles innovation and limits independent thought to defined topics.
• “Of or pertaining to scholarship” – an expansive definition.
• (Guess which one I prefer?)
• Many of my online conversations are professional
discussions with top practitioners in the fields of genomics
and bioinformatics. How is that not scholarly!?
Pushback: “Write more papers”
• Papers are good for only one thing: being an academic.
• Blogging is good for many things: networking across fields; exploring
non-academic careers; discovering what you are truly interested in.
• When your advisor or other power figures tell you to write more
papers, they are telling you: “You should be preparing for an
academic career, and nothing else.”
• This is awful, horrible, innumerate, and shortsighted advice born of a
frustratingly blinkered, close-minded, and conservative professoriate.
Most (80% or more) grad students and postdocs today will not go into
(But you still need to write papers.)
Suggestions: Low energy start
• Create & curate your Google Scholar page.
• Make sure you have a Web page somewhere.
• Create a Twitter account and follow one or two people that
work in your area
• Find blogs of interest; find Twitter handle of blogger; follow.
• When you publish,
• Post data to figshare;
• Write a guest blog post about paper on someone‟s blog (happy to
• Make sure your post has your Twitter handle on it.
Suggestion: Start blogging
• Write about interesting papers in your field, or in
neighboring fields. Be mildly provocative.
• Start anonymously, if you are concerned about reaction,
or looking stupid, or your advisor disapproving.
• Note that you will be outed if you keep blogging long enough.
• Most advisors are too busy to keep track of what you‟re actually
• See advice about advisors elsewhere (tl;dr? They‟re not often
capable of giving you good career advice.)
• Add non-peer-reviewed resources (preprints, esp good
blog posts, data) to your C.V.
• Set up ImpactStory and other altmetrics resources on
• Open reviewing has been surprisingly positive.
• Even when I‟m negative, I try to be constructive.
• Speak your own truth as long as its constructive.
• Strive for portable tenure.
• Don‟t ask “what‟s the worst that could happen?” without
asking “and what‟s the best that could happen?”
• On commenting, and building a community, and trolls: