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069: Five Ways Scientists SHOULD Be Using Twitter

Traditionally, spending time on social media was a great way to make your PI angry. Your job is to finish experiments, read papers, and present your work at conferences, not to upvote and share the latest blue-dress illusion.

But there are some unexpected benefits to the Twitter network that could help your science and your career.


This week on the show, we explore the weird world of Twitter, and how real-life scientists are using it to their advantage.  Here are some benefits you may not have considered:

1. Keep up with the research in your field

Raise your hand if you’ve ever missed out on an important paper in your field because your PubMed filter wasn’t precise. Or if you ever missed an advance because you decided you’d rather watch a Netflix series than flip through that stack of journals.

Scientific research moves quickly, and having a social network of like-minded scientists means you’ll have many more eyes on the literature. Follow the researchers in your field and rest assured you’ll never miss that big breakthrough.

2. Promote your own work

It’s a dirty fact that citations make your journal articles more valuable (Impact Factor, baby!).  Would you be surprised to learn that Twitter references correlate with early citations in other articles?

If you’re not sharing your research on Twitter, you’re missing a wider audience that may benefit from your findings.

3. Build your network and find a job

Most scientists I’ve met don’t like the word ‘networking.’ It feels awkward to ‘cold call’ a PI or collaborator, asking for reagents and inquiring about jobs.

But what if you had a rapport BEFORE you even met?

Follow the researchers you respect, reply to their tweets with your own perspective, and after awhile, you’ll recognize each other at that next conference and have a basis for conversation.

No cold calls necessary.

4. Attend the conference behind the conference

If you’re still not ready to dive into the Twittersphere, dip in your toe by participating in a conference.  Most meetings will define a hashtag that allows attendees to filter on tweets stemming from the conference.

You’ll discover a rich conversation happening in and around the talks and events. As one scientist presents her findings, others can ask questions or summarize the results on Twitter for follow up later.

There’s no reason to be passive just because it isn’t your turn on the dais.

5. Support the causes you believe in

Stephani Page, PhD
Stephani Page, PhD. Founder of the #BLACKandSTEM Twitter community

We interview Dr. Stephani Page, who launched an unexpected hashtag revolution one snowy day. Stephani wanted to find other black scientists and engineers on Twitter, so she tweeted:

Little did she know, that seemingly innocuous tweet would lead to articles in magazines like Fast Company, interviews on Al Jazeera and NPR, invitations to speak at conferences, and a supportive network of other STEM professionals.

She shares her amazing story and how it’s affected her career this week on the show! You can find her @ThePurplePage.

And of course, you can always find US on Twitter @hellophd.  Come join the conversation!

Good Beer and Bad Drugs

This week, we discuss recent research on the addiction profile for opioid drug users.  Overdose deaths are a serious cause of mortality in the United States, and it’s important to understand how people obtain and abuse these powerful drugs.

We play it safe by sampling Quinn’s Amber Ale from Wachusetts, MA. Part of our commitment to “no IPAs for awhile,” we take one for the team to try this smooth-drinking amber. 

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