30 January 2017

Enhance Your Science With Social Media: No…Really

Posted by Shane Hanlon

By Hanna Goss

Two years ago, a scientist told me he wasn’t interested in social media because he thought it was a fad. That myth was shattered after social media played such a huge role in the recent U.S. election.

Social media is powerful. What may not be as obvious is it can be a meaningful tool for you to enhance your science.

After almost 20 years of being a government science communicator, I have learned that conveying the societal value of basic research to nonacademic audiences is no longer an optional soft skill for scientists. It is a crucial tool in a world where facts are being yelled down by fake news and research budgets are finite or shrinking. Fortunately, many scientists are embracing social media to stay abreast of advancements in their fields, to promote their work, build their scientific reputations, and to communicate science to the public. One scientist I know learned about an international conference on Twitter and was accepted to present a special workshop at the meeting. Another researcher says she finds journal articles on Twitter that she doesn’t see using traditional methods. Tweets have also led to researchers being interviewed by traditional media, networking at conferences, and receiving job opportunities.

According to The Scientist and Phys.Org, scientists are also taking to social media to challenge weak research, share replication attempts in real time, counteract hype, and increase citation rates. Incorporating social media into the different stages of a scientific publication:

  • Accelerates the pace of scientific communication
  • Facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Communicates results to a large and diverse audience
  • Encourages post-publication conversations about findings
  • Speeds research evaluation
  • Increases science transparency
  • Amplifies the positive effects of scientists’ interactions with more traditional media

Social media is changing how scientists interact with each other and the global community. We need to grow those numbers. Researchers also need to actively engage with non-scientists on social media. Helping people understand the passion and integrity you bring to your work will go a long way in generating support.

Here are some resources to get you started:

-Hanna Goss is the Communications Team Lead for the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility

My poster at AGU16 (click to enlarge).

If you are not part of the solution… You are part of the precipitate.