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Using Social Media in Research


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Training workshop run at #UCDavis on November 1, 2012

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Using Social Media in Research

  1. 1. Social Media inResearch & Academia Holly BikEisen Lab, UC Davis Genome Center #UCDSocMed
  2. 2. How many people have…. …used Facebook? ..used Twitter? …read a blog? …wrote a blog?….done any of the above in the context of research?
  3. 3. Via Digital Buzz blog - Twitter has 517 million accounts as of July 1, 2012, with 141.8 million of those users in the U.S. (via Tech Crunch - )
  4. 4. Users of different media– log scaleChart Courtesy of Miriam Goldstein@MiriamGoldste
  5. 5. Users of different media - linear scaleChart Courtesy of Miriam Goldstein@MiriamGoldste
  6. 6. Social Media tools & their usesLong-form (more longevity, but more time investment)• Blogs – independent (e.g. a free Blogger/Wordpress account) or linked to an established blog network (Scientific American, Nature Network)• Video content – Youtube. Catchy visuals can be more effective than long written pieces. Difficult and time consuming to achieve high production quality.• Podcasting – iTunes. Another different media form. Also can be just as time consuming to produce as video content.
  7. 7. Social Media tools & their usesShort-form (more ephemeral, minimal time investment)• Twitter – messages <140 characters, can post thoughts, soundbytes, links, pictures.• Facebook – personal profiles (pictures, status updates, etc.), groups and “pages”. But people can be wary about privacy settings (not accepting friend requests professional colleagues, or eschewing Facebook altogether).• Microblogging – Tumblr (photos, quotes), Pinterest (visual ‘pinboard’)
  8. 8. But first you need to have:• A professional website –,• A LinkedIn profile –• Your scientific products visible online – Slideshare – Datasets – Mendeley (reference manager)
  9. 9. Social Media Glossary• Post – any new update (blog, twitter, etc.)• Tweet – a post on Twitter – LT = live tweet, RT = retweet, MT = modified retweet• Hashtag – e.g. #UCDSocMed, #scio13 each aggregate common posts on twitter• Meme – images, videos that “go viral”
  10. 10. Social Media is best leveraged for…• Community building - Particularly relevant for niche topics, e.g. taxonomists working on a specific group or species• Content curation - linking to traditional media sources, e.g. news articles• Increasing the visibility of scientists (branding as ‘experts’)• Cutting out the middleman - scientists can communicate directly with interested members of the public. – Conversations are also archived for future reference (dependent on platform)
  11. 11. Social Media is NOT…• ...a way to reach diverse audiences who arent looking for your information – platforms that do this would be traditional media like TV and radio• …a forum for “one-way proclaiming from the sky” – Social media is about the conversation, which doesnt work if you dont participate
  12. 12. How do I start?• Define your goals – What do you want to achieve?• Define your audience – Who do you envision talking to? Other scientists (inside/outside your discipline)? Journalists? Educators? The general public?• Choose specific platforms which help you achieve your goals – How much time do you want to invest? – What medium is best for conferring your message?
  13. 13. - Figure byMiriam Goldstein
  14. 14. - Figure by Miriam Goldstein
  15. 15. Leveraging social media in researchConference tweeting – using Twitter atconferences/meetings• Tweeting soundbytes from talks – taking notes, disseminating conference content• Discussing talks with other audience members (and remote participants) during conference sessions• Networking - interactions on twitter can introduce you to new people, and also serve as icebreakers before you meet other conference participants in real life
  16. 16. Leveraging social media in researchResearch Blogging – posting content on your ownblog or on a blog network• Producing blog posts as educational resources, providing access to jargon-heavy information (field-specific journal articles)• Using blogging as a way to amalgamate scientific literature as your are catching up on reading or doing a literature review.
  17. 17. Examples of Research Blogs• Scientific Media – Nature, Scientific Ameican – –• Individual Scientists (or Lab/Group Blogs) – Real names - – Pseudonyms -• Company blogs• Expedition/Outreach blogs
  18. 18. http://deepseanews.comMission Statement: Demystifying and humanizing science inan open conversation that instills passion, awe, andresponsibility for the oceans.Our vision of the future is• a public craving ocean exploration and knowledge,• ocean scientists eager to be the guides for both,• resulting in a global commitment for protection and restoration of our oceans.
  19. 19. Core Values1. Direct from the bench and the trench. We believe in directly communicating science to the public without barriers and intermediaries.2. Saying things others do not. We will move the conversation forward by providing ocean science content from the obscure to the controversial.3. Reverently irreverent. We will be true to who we are in real life, leveraging humor to keep the science dialogue informal and accessible.4. Promoting ocean literacy. We will help the public make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources by interpreting the essential principles and fundamental concepts of ocean science.5. Perspective through a plurality of voices. We believe the conversation between the public and science should not be one way. Vision, growth, and intelligent progress can only come through an open conversation that includes all stakeholders. We strive to provide a platform for diverse voices to be heard.6. Awareness through scrutiny, not negativity. We believe that a critical assessment of ongoing ocean issues and science is vital, but that open conversation is hindered by negativity. We will strive to be professional, diplomatic, empathetic, and rational in our evaluation.7. Expanding the culture of ocean science. The ocean and our lives as scientists are part of the larger fabric of human culture. We will highlight areas where the ocean touches our society, and seek to provide a window into our lives both as scientists and a member of the public embedded in ocean culture. We will strive for a future that allows for scientists and the public to be partnering stakeholders in sustaining and preserving our oceans.8. Call to Action. We believe that an open dialogue is just the first step, and seek to turn words into action.
  20. 20. SEAPLEX Expedition Blog Slides Courtesy of Miriam Goldstein @MiriamGoldste
  21. 21. Seaplex SlidesCourtesy ofMiriam Goldstein@MiriamGoldste
  22. 22. Seaplex SlidesCourtesy ofMiriam Goldstein@MiriamGoldste
  23. 23. Seaplex SlidesCourtesy ofMiriam Goldstein@MiriamGoldste
  24. 24. Seaplex Slides•Scripps Oceanography & Project Kaisei channels Courtesy of Miriam Goldstein•SEAPLEX playlist @MiriamGoldste
  25. 25. Seaplex SlidesCourtesy ofMiriam Goldstein@MiriamGoldste
  26. 26. Official Site Seaplex Slides Courtesy of Miriam Goldstein @MiriamGoldste
  27. 27. Potential benefits from social media• Establishing a reputation as an “expert” by participating in online interactions – Enables networking with academic colleagues and diverse professionals (journalists, media contacts)• Scientific benefits that can result – New collaborations, manuscripts, research funding – Obtaining samples or leveraging others’ fieldwork – Interactions across the boundaries of your discipline – Increased efficiency (e.g. obtaining PDFs, getting quick answers to questions)
  28. 28. Potential benefits from social media• Online interactions will broaden your real networks – Meet researchers, journalists with similar interests – Spread your reputation without direct interactions• Provides an escape from the solitary nature of science – commiseration and congratulations – e.g. #FridayNightScience hashtag connects researchers working long hours in the lab
  29. 29. Perils – external perceptions• Perception and reputation in academic circles – “When do you have time to do science?”• Aimless interactions or mis-directed goals • Easy to get overloaded • Lots of different tools • Distractions…. Jeff Atwood,
  30. 30. Long term needs and outlook • Online tools are uncharted territory, but will be increasingly important (especially amongst younger demographic groups)Pressing need for training workshops andreference materials for researchers wantingto incorporate new tools.•• NSF’s “Science: Becoming the Messenger” workshops Photo from
  31. 31. Long term needs and outlook• We need METRICS – track and refine use of online tools and dissemination of content – – - unique researcher IDs – will be necessary for promoting acceptance inacademic circles; metrics dispel the perceptionthat online activities are a “waste of time”, e.g. injob searches, tenure review Altmetric tool
  32. 32. Tips and Guidance• Social Media requires an initial time investment (setting up accounts, exploring features, connecting with other users)• Observe and "lurk" for a while as you start to learn how community works• Explore different tools and decide what works best for you personally. Consistent use of fewer tools is better than spreading yourself too thin.
  33. 33. Tips and Guidance• Dont be afraid to ask for help – There are many established and friendly communities online where people are always willing to help• Social Media will save you time in the long run – Provides filters and customization for the online flood of information – Many existing tools for aggregation and cross- platform synching
  34. 34. Useful Tools• RSS Feeds• Apps – iPhone/iPad, Android – Google Reader for aggregating Blog RSS feeds – Flipboard – turns tweets into a magazine layout• Blog autoposting tools -• Tweet timing tools -• Storify –• “Buttons” in your web browser toolbar – Press this, Tweet this, Pin it
  35. 35. References• Wilcox C. Guest editorial. Its time to e-volve: taking responsibility for science communication in a digital age. Biol. Bull. 2012 Apr.;222(2):85–7.• Shiffman DS. Twitter as a tool for conservation education and outreach: what scientific conferences can do to promote live-tweeting. J Environ Stud Sci. 2012 Jul.24;2(3):257–62.• Priem J, Piowar HA, Hemminger BM. Altmetrics in the Wild: Using Social Media to Explore Scholarly Impact. 2012 Mar.30;:1–23.• Ecklund EH, James SA, Lincoln AE. How Academic Biologists and Physicists View Science Outreach. PLoS ONE. Public Library of Science; 2012 May9;7(5):e36240.• Social Networking for Scientists (Wiki and PDF guide by Christie Wilcox)• Social Media workshop run at #ESA12
  36. 36. Twitter & Social Media Links• 10 Commandments of Twitter for Academics• Social Media for Scientists (series by Christie Wilcox) – scientists-part-1-its-our-job/ – scientists-part-2-you-do-have-time/ – scientists-part-2-5-breaking-stereotypes/ – scientists-part-3-win-win/ – scientists-part-4-on-the-road/ – scientists-part-5-its-time-to-e-volve/
  37. 37. Article Metrics - links• Is blogging and tweeting about research worth it? (YES - about-research.html• Scientists: Your number is up - ORCIDs give researchers unique, traceable online IDs (Nature news) number-is-up-1.10740• Wikipedia + Journal Articles - New effort by PLoS to add journal article content to wikipedia. (Scientific American) culture/2012/05/14/wikipedia-journal-articles/• What users do with PLoS ONE papers - HTML pageviews, article downloads, and social media discussions (PLoS Blogs) papers/