This section has some tips and ideas for how to use your Twitter account for research communication.
Thick versus thin tweets
A researcher called Bonnie Zink talks about the idea of ‘thick’ versus ‘thin’ tweets. Thin tweets lack depth and usually aren’t as engaging, whereas thick tweets have more layers of information and can be connected to wider networks through hashtags. Bonnie Zink puts it like this:
You can download a text version of this image.
You can make your tweets “thicker” by doing things like:
- Not just posting a link to a paper, but saying what it’s about, why it interests you or what you thought about it, or why someone else might want to read it.
- When tweeting about a conference, include the conference hashtag to connect it with other tweets about the conference, or so your followers can click the hashtag in your tweet to find more.
- Use images, gifs, or video in your tweet (though making them accessible).
What kinds of things can you tweet about?
Anything that you like! Check out the previous personal vs professional section too. Here are some research-specific ideas from the ESRC:
- Details of new publications or resources you’ve produced
- News items that feature your research
- Links to any blog posts you’ve written
- Thoughts on conferences you attend
- Questions to invite feedback
- Interesting news items you’ve found
- Interesting photographs
- Replies to other people’s tweets
- Retweets of other people’s tweets
Any other tips?
- Try to engage in conversations, rather than just posting links to your own stuff. Retweet others, reply and get involved in discussions, use and follow conference hashtags, ask questions.
- Have a clear bio on your profile page saying what you do or are interested in (and don’t be afraid to include non-research interests too).
- Include your Twitter handle in your presentations and your email signature.
- The more people who are able to read your tweets the better, so make sure you tweet in an accessible way for disabled people. You can find more detail on this in the accessibility section.
If you’re not sure where to start, these are some recommended accounts and academic hashtags you might be interested in:
- @ExeterDoctoral – Exeter Doctoral College
- @LSEimpactblog – on the impact of academic research
- @POST_UK – Parliamentary Office for Science & Technology
- @edyong209 – science writer for The Atlantic (a good example of engaging research communication)
- @PhDForum – peer support for research students
- @ThesisWhisperer – researcher with a blog full of useful advice for PhD students
- @FromPhDtoLife – a coach who specialises in helping PhD students to explore careers
- @WriteThatPhD – Resources to help you ‘write that PhD’
- @ThomsonPat – researcher with a blog full of useful advice for PhD students
- @LegoGradStudent – tweeting about higher education experiences using Lego
- #TweetYourThesis – Annual competition by @ExeterDoctoral in which people tweet about their research. Good place to find out what Exeter PGRs are working on.
- #PhDWeekend – find peer support with other PGRs who need to work flexibly
- #ShutUpAndWrite – find people who want to do some Pomodoro writing blocks
- #acwri – on academic writing
- #PhDChat – find peer support with other PGRs
- #PhDLife – find peer support with other PGRs
- #AcademicWeekend – find peer support with other PGRs who need to work flexibly
- #PhDProblems – find peer support with other PGRs
- #WithAPhD – Run by @PhDtoLife on careers with a PhD
@NewResearcher is a research student who has just started using Twitter but isn’t sure how to make their tweets interesting or how to use them to interact with others. This is their current feed. How would you re-do the tweets to make them more engaging and in your own style?
@NewResearcher: At a conference talk.
@NewResearcher: Published: fakeacajournal.org/123.094747.4774
@NewResearcher: I wonder if I’m the only one finding my upgrade tough to prepare for.
@NewResearcher: Reading in the library with a coffee.