Microblogging tools such as Twitter provide powerful ways to share published research papers and other web content.
Twitter is easy to use and – unlike email – it needn’t add to your workload. A Twitter “feed” is like a stream you can step in an out of and, when you want to sail a little boat down that stream you send a tweet. You can simply write a short message, but it’s far more powerful if you include in your message a web link to some substantive content, eg a journal article or another web page.
You make the stream yourself by selecting (“following”) the Twitter accounts that interest you. 1000s of academic journals, health organisations, universities, news media, and individuals now have Twitter accounts. You can find them by searching on twitter or – more easily – by typing something like “Trish Groves BMJ twitter” into Google or another search engine.
You don’t have reply or respond to anyone if you don’t want to. Tweeters aren’t messaging you personally; they’re broadcasting. You can control how much you want to interact with Twitter, and you can decide what to watch, when to switch it on and off, and when to broadcast something yourself.
Here’s a broadcasting analogy that might help. Imagine you’re watching the news on TV and, at the bottom of the screen, there’s a running caption of headlines (sometimes called a “ticker”). When you see a headline that catches your attention, you click on it and the newsreader switches to that story. You may not have that kind of service on your TV (yet!), but I hope this helps to understand the concept of Twitter.
Two free resources about the uses of twitter in academia are:
Teaching Tips for academics
A Powerpoint presentation by me, for early career health researchers:
Trish (I’m @trished on Twitter if you’d like to follow me)
Dr Trish Groves
Head of Research, BMJ
& Editor-in-chief, BMJ Open
BMJ, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR
T: 020 7383 6018