Become a #connectedacademic – Social Media for Researchers

Although some of the academic world has taken up and embraced social media and other online platforms, as an enhancement to academic pursuits, there are still many researchers that are skeptical about social media or unable to see the benefit of spending their valuable time partaking in online activities. However, there is increasing evidence of the value that social media can add to the academic portfolio. By all accounts, North America seems to be at the forefront of social media use for professional purposes.

Benefits of social media in academia include, but are not limited to, stakeholder engagement, collaboration building, promotion of publications leading to increased citations, and an avenue for expressing and discussing views on research topics. With so many social media channels to choose, and new ones appearing all the time it can seem daunting to dip the academic toe in the water. The platform you choose to use will depend on what you aim to achieve with social media use,  but can include blogging, tweeting, sharing of resources through Mendeley or ResearchGate, or perhaps uploading entire datasets to figshare.

There are several great avenues for the social media newbie from the academic world, including Twitter, ResearchGate,, Mendeley, Zotero,  Wordpress and Blogger. These will be explored over the next few weeks.

Lets start with Twitter.

Twitter has over 645 million active users worldwide and in Australia there are 2.5 million active users. There is growing evidence of the benefits of twitter and other social media to increase interest and uptake of academic research findings. Of great interest to academics is the ability to leverage more citations of your academic publications through posting on twitter. Social media is still relatively under used in the academic world. At a time when social media use is growing it is imperative to participate.

Benefits of social media participation for researchers include; use of social media as an avenue to both disseminate and access research, and the ability to connect with other researchers, policymakers, decision makers, mainstream media, and other potential users of research, who are commonly using twitter to access and gather information..

Keen to get started. Heres a ten step introduction to help researchers get on Twitter.

  1. Create a Twitter profile. Choose an easy and short name to use on twitter. (e.g @ktaustralia).
  2. Develop a short and interesting bio to describe yourself and your research fields. Remember you want the right people to follow you….eventually!
  3. Upload a photo, this can be a logo or a picture of yourself. Never use the default egg, this suggests you are not serious.
  4. Use the search box in Twitter to find people in your field. (e.g mental health, environment, physics).
  5. Start by watching and listening to what others in your field are doing. Build confidence in your understanding of twitter
  6. Start following people and organisations relevant to your research field and interests. Follow to be followed.
  7. Determine the hashtags relevant to your field – use or to see who uses these tags and suggested other tags. Remember to use hashtags when you tweet
  8. Start by retweeting or favoriting content that is of interest to you.
  9. Thank new followers and acknowledge Retweets.
  10. Start writing your own tweets.


Now go on, be brave. It’s a big wide world out there, start exploring it!

What are your thoughts on using Twitter? Do you currently use Twitter for your research or academic career? Please provide feedback in the comments below.

Next week – ResearchGate and