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2013 beacon-congress-social-media

  1. 1. HOW TO BUILD AN ENDURING ONLINE RESEARCH PRESENCE USING SOCIAL NETWORKING AND OPEN SCIENCE The voodoo of blogging, Twitter, Figshare, and Github, among others. Titus Brown,
  2. 2. A few notes up front. • This talk is Tweetable; my Twitter handle is @ctitusbrown. • Use hash tag #2013beacon if tweeting this talk. • I‟ll post these slides on afterwards. • Ask questions as I go.
  3. 3. A lot of anecdotes • The point of social media is that it‟s personal. • I am not, and am not pretending to be, a social media guru. • There are many ways to have a research presence online. • I will tell you about some of these ways, and talk about how I have used them, and how it‟s worked for me. • This is a very subjective talk.
  4. 4. whoami? • Asst Prof (untenured) at MSU; • Started 2008 at MSU • Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (2/3) • Computer Science and Engineering (1/3) • Programming in open source since ~1990 • Participating in online discussions since then • Started blogging in ~2006 • Started Twittering in ~2008 (?) • Interests include: data-intensive science, esp biology; effective software development; open science; education.
  5. 5. Outline • What is social media & open science, and what is the overlap? • What sites are out there, and what might you use them for? • 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.
  6. 6. 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, LinkedIn, etc. • Useful for many things: • Friends and family: baby pictures, link sharing, discussions. • Professional networking. • Resource discovery and professional discussions.
  7. 7. What is open science? • Sharing scientific data, process, results, and opinions openly. • For example, • Open access • Open peer review • Open data • Open source • Preprint sharing • Scientific blogs
  8. 8. Social media vs open science • You can use social media as part of an open science strategy. • You can pursue (some) open science without social media: preprints, Dryad, github. • I think there‟s a natural synergy and confluence.
  9. 9. 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!
  10. 10. A brief tour of some Web sites. • Facebook • Blog • Twitter • Figshare • arXiv • Haldane‟s Sieve • Github
  11. 11. Facebook. • “Reciprocal friending” model. • I‟m trying to reserve FB for personal interactions, not for networking.
  12. 12. My blog. • Where I post about “my stuff”. • Note: Chris Adami & Gemma Reguera both have active blogs. • Use public commenting software, RSS feeds, etc.
  13. 13. Twitter. Links and conversation, 140 ch at a time. Really valuable “real time”. Great way to discover things of interest. No need to keep up! Dip in whenever.
  14. 14. Figshare. A place to post content & get DOIs for it - ARCHIVAL. Figures, data, presentations, etc.
  15. 15. arXiv.
  16. 16. Haldane‟s Sieve. Place to discuss preprints.
  17. 17. Github
  18. 18. 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 other blogs. • I (occasionally) use figshare to generate DOIs. • I post, kibbitz, network, and discover things on Twitter. • (I discuss politics etc. on Facebook :)
  19. 19. Twitter: one forum to bind them all. • ~2500 followers • ~Instantaneous • Hash tags and @mentions drive conversation. People I follow My tweets My Twitter stream Explicit retweet People who follow me
  20. 20. My blog: where I explore ideas at my leisure. • Mix of op-eds, meeting reports, reviews, paper discussions, satire.
  21. 21. Github: where I store code and text (papers, blog posts, etc.) • Show impact story, papers
  22. 22. Slideshare Might as well post presentations, right?
  23. 23. arXiv Post papers upon submission to journal. 1st paper had 2 citations upon acceptance. Most journals OK with “scholarly communication” See: y
  24. 24. Haldane‟s Sieve A place to discuss. Think of it as peer review without the rejection.
  25. 25. Lab Web site • Increasingly out of date; hard to maintain... • Post grants, papers, preprints, etc.
  26. 26. And how has that worked out for you, Dr. Brown? • Very well, thank you! • 22 invited talks in 2012. • Three grants (eventually) from a program manager who contacted me after I blogged about needing funding. • A grant review in which open source and preprints were positively mentioned as a strong reason to fund me. • NAS invitation to Environmental Health Sciences meeting (!?) • The Assemblathon2 …thing. Social media nucleated conversations and interactions.
  27. 27. NAS Meeting • Out of the blue, received an invitation to a Nat‟l Academies meeting on Big Data and Environmental Health Sciences. • At the meeting, I asked “why did you invite me!?” • “We googled Big Data and biology and found your blog.” The thing is, my opinions on this are kind of pedestrian. But I was the only one who blogged them. So.
  28. 28. Side note: Serendipity & the Assemblathon 2 review process • Step 1: The Assemblathon 2 paper, a comparative analysis of de novo genome assemblers, was posted to arXiv. • Step 2: It was submitted to GigaScience (BMC journal) and I was asked to review. • Note: GigaScience reviews are posted after paper is acepted; semi-open review process. • Identity of reviewers formally unknown until then. • Step 3: My lab and I wrote a review.
  29. 29. Side note: Serendipity & the Assemblathon 2 review process • I sent in the review, and then wrote a broader commentary about the paper and posted it. • I then asked if I could post the review (“sure, it‟s your ©”) and did so. FIRESTORM OK, well, a minor firestorm :)
  30. 30. Side note: Serendipity & the Assemblathon 2 review process Outcomes: • Quite a few blog posts at the time. • After pub: • Nature News article • BMC perspective • “We were shocked that a reviewer broke confidentiality! And then we realized there wasn‟t any to be broken, in this case. Whoa.” • “First review process where we felt it was entirely.” • More interviews, etc. Lots of publicity. In a good way.
  31. 31. Side note: Serendipity & the Assemblathon 2 review process Also, some horribly embarrassing social media: The other reviewer, Mick Watson, got jealous of the media attention and started a “#titusischucknorris” meme on Twitter:
  32. 32. Side note: Serendipity & the Assemblathon 2 review process
  33. 33. So, social media can be fun & useful. • Made lots of contacts and friends; a real community with whom I can explore ideas; etc. • Is there a downside, other than extreme embarrassment?
  34. 34. 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…”
  35. 35. Is it worth it? Heck if I know; very hard to find strong evidence anywhere. But it sure is fun!
  36. 36. Define (or at least think about) your goals • Increased citations? • Increased visibility for your research? • Outlet for opinions? • Fame? Fortune?
  37. 37. Concerns • Cost $$. • Giving away trade secrets! • Lots of extra effort • How do you keep things up to date? • How do you continue to produce new content? • Being publicly wrong. • Being ignored and irrelevant. • Being yelled at. • “But I don‟t like writing and I don‟t have opinions” • Institutional rules and norms: MSU, NSF/NIH, ??
  38. 38. Concerns: $$ • None of these Web sites cost anything but some configuration time. • Designed to be easy to set up. • Customization can take a lot of time, but isn‟t necessary.
  39. 39. Concerns: my Big Idea will be stolen! • First: no reason you need to write about or share unpublished research! • 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‟.
  40. 40. Concerns: Extra Effort • Yep. • 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.
  41. 41. 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 routine. • For example, I write reviews and then (when the paper comes out) post them to my blog.
  42. 42. Concerns: Being Wrong, or Irrelevant • First: treat being wrong like you‟re in a classroom, and correct yourself. • 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.”
  43. 43. 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 jerk. • DO NOT RESPOND WHEN YOU ARE ANGRY. • Trolls feed on your anger; do not let the dark side rule. • Be unafraid to moderate, block, blacklist trolls, or people who just seem out to argue in bad faith.
  44. 44. Concerns: I don‟t have any opinions/don‟t like writing. • First, everyone has opinions, and most worthwhile careers will want you to be able to express them. • Second, most worthwhile careers involve writing. • Third, I have never met a grad student or above who didn‟t have lots of opinions worth discussing. Consider this a low visibility way to screw up a few times… (See below advice about anonymous blogging.)
  45. 45. Concerns: I don‟t have any opinions/don‟t like writing. • First, everyone has opinions, and most worthwhile careers will want you to be able to express them. • Second, most worthwhile careers involve writing. • Third, I have never met a grad student or above who didn’t have lots of opinions worth discussing. Consider this a low visibility way to screw up a few times… (See below advice about anonymous blogging.)
  46. 46. 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 limit it. • Important! • You‟re not protected against libel charges, so don‟t libel someone. • Don‟t Be Stupid (name other faculty negatively; trash talk; discuss students). • The „net has a different sense of humor than your administrators, so don‟t be surprised if there is pushback when you‟re edgy. • Don’t mess with the NSF/NIH: don’t post “unofficial” announcements, reviews, etc. There are legal reasons for this.
  47. 47. Satire to critique NSF
  48. 48. Satire to critique MSU
  49. 49. Satire to critique everyone
  50. 50. Outcome? • Lots of publicity. • Remarkably little blowback. • Enduring misunderstandings :) • Most people will get satire; those that don‟t, aren‟t on the Internet.
  51. 51. 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 • Online presence: is it necessary? If you are not curating your online identity, someone or something else is doing it for you.
  52. 52. Serendipity: Maximize reusability • You already have to share your data, in theory. • Why not do so with an eye to making it easy for people to reuse it, after which they will then need to cite you? • Put data up on figshare or Dryad, source code on github. • No one needs to contact you! • It‟s really easy. • BEACON is happy to help.
  53. 53. Enabling Serendipity • There are many more relevant connections, colleagues, papers, future students, and collaborators out there than you know! • Think of your online presence as a way to enable them to find you and your papers, data, software, opinions. • This will fine tune your own attention and research, and direct you into additional areas through which you can expand your relevance.
  54. 54. Signaling • It turns out, papers that make their data and code available are more likely to be statistically rigorous and “correct”. • Willingness to Share Research Data Is Related to the Strength of the Evidence and the Quality of Reporting of Statistical Results, Wicherts et al., PLoS One, 2011. • (This is proven! In a peer reviewed publication! So you know it‟s right!) • But, seriously, by opening your data and your code, you are “signaling” that you are a good, thoughtful, sharing, and conscientious researcher. • (Yes, this can be abused :)
  55. 55. Blogging • Networking from the comfort of your own home. • I now prefer blogging to giving official talks; more impact. • More family friendly! • You can explain your papers via your blog. • Most papers are written in stilted academese, with attention to correctness and defensibility. • Blogging about them offers you a way to say what you think it all really means without having to go through peer review. • …although, fo‟ sure, you will be peer reviewed on your blog :) • When you are a looking for a job (in or out of academia), your blog will represent “you” far more than your rec letters, your publications, or your speaking presence. (OK, that can be good or bad. But at least it‟s honest, right?)
  56. 56. Curating your online identity • Even if you are a professor, your department‟s version of a home page for you will be largely useless. • This is how students and collaborators will find you. True story: NSF program manager, “Where‟s your CV? We were trying to look you up during section review, and it was hard to figure out what you‟d actually done.” Oops. MAKE IT BLEEDIN‟ OBVIOUS.
  57. 57. Curating your online identity • Search engines are pretty good: “titus brown msu”
  58. 58. Curating your online identity • Search engines are pretty good: “titus brown msu” • Build a “landing page” so that people can see you in all your scientific glory. • papers, CV, google scholar, twitter, position, etc. • Keep it updated! (No, I am not following my own advice here.)
  59. 59. Is an online presence necessary? • Increasingly, yes. • You already have one, anyway. • Why not have a good one that reflects your interests, rather than whatever other venues say?
  60. 60. Pushback • “Waste of time.” • “Not a scholarly activity.” • “It‟s better to work hard and get papers.”
  61. 61. Pushback: “waste of time” But: • 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…
  62. 62. Pushback: “Not scholarly.” But: • 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!?
  63. 63. 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 the professoriate. (But you still need to write papers.)
  64. 64. Actual dangers • My credibility rests largely on my science. • If you‟re a bad scientist, or become an opinion writer entirely, I think you‟ve strayed. • Easy to become sidetracked by publicity. • I started getting more invitations to meta-science than to science (“open science!”, “Beyond the PDF”, etc.etc.) • Take care of your incentives. • I try to view social media and open science as being epiphenomena surrounding my science. • Way to leverage, connect, network, and focus. • NOT the science itself!!
  65. 65. 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 host!); • Make sure your post has your Twitter handle on it.
  66. 66. 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 doing. • See advice about advisors elsewhere (tl;dr? They‟re not often capable of giving you good career advice.)
  67. 67. Other ideas/thoughts • Add non-peer-reviewed resources (preprints, esp good blog posts, data) to your C.V. • Set up ImpactStory and other altmetrics resources on your site. • Open reviewing has been surprisingly positive. • Even when I‟m negative, I try to be constructive.
  68. 68. Final thoughts • Don‟t ask “what‟s the worst that could happen?” without asking “and what‟s the best that could happen?” • Speak your own truth as long as it‟s constructive. • Strive for portable tenure. • Mostly, regard all this online “nonsense” as a way to augment and feed into all your career incentives.
  69. 69. Final thoughts • Don’t ask “what’s the worst that could happen?” without asking “and what’s the best that could happen?” • Speak your own truth as long as it‟s constructive. • Strive for portable tenure. • Mostly, regard all this online “nonsense” as a way to augment and feed into all your career incentives.
  70. 70. Final thoughts • Don‟t ask “what‟s the worst that could happen?” without asking “and what‟s the best that could happen?” • Speak your own truth as long as it’s constructive. • Don‟t be me. • Be yourself. • Strive for portable tenure. • Mostly, regard all this online “nonsense” as a way to augment and feed into all your career incentives.
  71. 71. Integrate with open science • Post papers (pre- or post- pub) to arXiv. • Post data to figshare or Dryad. • Post code to github. • Post presentations to slideshare. • Post good reviews on a blog. • Put these links on Twitter. • Engage in online conversation. • Try to make the process and thinking and conclusions accessible to non-experts. • Bring your science online. …and build a better world for your kids. (and a better career for yourself :)
  72. 72. References • On commenting, and building a community, and trolls: clock/2013/01/28/commenting-threads-good-bad-or-not-at- all/ • The age of the essay: • “How I use different social media platforms for science.” • “An Introduction to Social Media for Scientists”, Bik & Goldstein