Researchers have long been encouraged to use Twitter. But does researchers’ presence on Twitter influence citations to their papers? José Luis Ortega explored to what extent the participation of scholars on Twitter can influence the tweeting of their articles and found that although the relationship between tweets and citations is poor, actively participating on Twitter is a powerful way of promoting and disseminating academic outputs, potentially indirectly influencing the scholarly impact and improving prospects of increased citations.
Tracking the digital footprints to scholarly articles: the fast accumulation and rapid decay of social media referrals
Academics are increasingly encouraged to share their scholarly articles via social media, as part of a wider drive to maximise their dissemination and engagement. But what effect does this have? Xianwen Wang has studied the referral data of academic papers, with particular focus on social media referrals and how these change over time. Referrals from social media do indeed account for a significant number of visits to articles, especially in the days immediately following publication. But this fast initial accumulation soon gives way to a rapid decay.
Social media offers academics a wonderful opportunity to get their message “out there”, to connect with, educate and inform a broad, new online audience. And universities encourage them to do so, to actively market and disseminate their research. Yet although this shouldn’t be a one-way process, the standard mantra for engaging online is: don’t read the comments. Based on his own experiences, and at a time when academics are not always held in the highest regard by the general public, Philip Moriarty has some cautionary advice for those eager to embark on their own online public engagement activities.
As part of a series previewing their new book, Communicating Your Research with Social Media, Amy Mollett, Cheryl Brumley, Chris Gilson and Sierra Williams give an overview of how NASA has risen to the challenge of communicating its findings, resources and achievements to the world through social media.
Following his initial post on this topic in 2015, Wasim Ahmed has updated and expanded his rundown of the tools available to social scientists looking to analyse social media data. A number of new applications have been released in the intervening period, with the increasing complexity of certain research questions also having prompted some tools to increase their data retrieval functionalities. Although platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp have more active users, Twitter’s unique infrastructure and the near-total availability of its data have ensured its popularity among researchers remains high.
By producing podcasts you can reach wider audiences, occupy your niche and create new items of research
The success of the Serial podcast, a true crime spin-off from the widely popular This American Life, has introduced new audiences to a modern form of broadcasting and inspired a new generation of producers. As part of a series previewing their new book Communicating Your Research with Social Media, Amy Mollett, Cheryl Brumley, Chris Gilson and Sierra Williams outline why researchers should take advantage of this podcasting renaissance.
How do LSE Blogs impact the academic sphere? Exploring the effects of blogging on published research
Carlos Arrebola and Amy Mollett share the first findings of an LSE study that sought to examine the effects of blogging on the success of published articles. While the study proved to be more exploratory than explanatory, with the positive effects on citations particularly difficult to demonstrate conclusively, data does show that blogging enhances the overall attention paid to published research.
The centuries-old tradition of writing for advocacy is continued into the digital era by blogging. But what should you be writing about? As part of a series previewing their new book Communicating Your Research with Social Media, Amy Mollett, Cheryl Brumley, Chris Gilson and Sierra Williams consider the various different types of blog posts and how each might be used by academics.
Carlos Arrebola takes a closer look at the increasing frequency with which LSE blog posts are being cited in scholarly publications. The Impact Blog has been cited most often, perhaps reflecting its authors’ readiness to draw on non-traditional scholarly outputs. Unsurprisingly, a majority of citations come from English-speaking countries and in social sciences subjects. Meanwhile, some posts are even cited where there is a corresponding journal article available; either because supplementary detail may be provided, or because of wider access issues.
Scientists have an image problem. Women and minorities are often told they don’t “look like scientists” as stubborn stereotypes depict scientists as white, male, and more competent than warm. Instagram, with its huge and growing community of users and obvious capacity to relate human interest stories, represents a great opportunity to address this problem. Paige Jarreau and Samantha Yammine introduce Scientist Selfies, a new project that will test whether by humanising themselves on Instagram and interacting with their followers scientists can enhance popular perceptions. A selection of evidence-based Instagram tips for scientists have already emerged from the project.
“Words divide, pictures unite” – great historic examples of the use of data visualisation for research communication
Students, researchers and academics from across a variety of disciplines use data visualisations and infographics in their blogs and projects to better tell the stories in their data and enhance audience understanding. As part of a series previewing their new book Communicating Your Research with Social Media, Amy Mollett, Cheryl Brumley, Chris Gilson and Sierra Williams explore a short history of data visualisation over the past 200 years.
How can blogging help research make an impact beyond academia? Illustrative examples from the LSE blogs
Previous posts in our series on the Impact of LSE Blogs project examined the effects of blogging on the academic sphere, looking more closely at citations to the original research outputs and also to the blog posts themselves. But what about the effects of blogging beyond academia, on the public sphere? In the final post of the series, Kieran Booluck recounts some examples of how LSE blogs have helped primary academic research to be discovered and used, and also revisits those posts that have demonstrated the blogs’ huge potential to extend the reach of research.
There is no escaping the power of images. Researchers who use photography and video as part of their projects have the potential to reach huge audiences through visual-obsessed social media channels. As part of a series previewing their new book Communicating Your Research with Social Media, Amy Mollett, Cheryl Brumley, Chris Gilson and Sierra Williams run through the questions you should ask yourself before getting started; questions that will help you to identify realistic objectives as well as potential barriers.
Last year, The Economist proclaimed the podcast had come of age. It’s never been easier to create, edit, and upload a podcast and an increasing number of academics use them to showcase and share their research. Christine Garrington explains why podcasting is such a powerful, impactful tool for researchers, and also offers some pointers to those looking to start their own series; from being clear about your objectives and who your podcast is for, to the importance of striking the right tone and eliciting feedback along the way.
Scientific birds of a feather flock together: science communication on social media rarely happens across or beyond disciplinary boundaries
The success of academic research in reaching out beyond its own scientific community is a perennial concern, even more so following the rapid adoption of social media and the ability to easily transmit information to potentially millions of people. Consequently, many attempts have been made to capture the broad scientific impact beyond academia using social media data. But is increased social media attention really indicative of “broader impact”? Qing Ke, Yong-Yeol Ahn and Cassidy R. Sugimoto have studied how much scientific discourse is happening across and beyond scientific communities on Twitter and found that social media does not broaden scientific communication, but rather replicates and perpetuates pre-established disciplinary boundaries. “Alt” metrics may not be so alternative after all.
Academic journals with a presence on Twitter are more widely disseminated and receive a higher number of citations
Previous research has shown that researchers’ active participation on Twitter can be a powerful way of promoting and disseminating academic outputs and improving the prospects of increased citations. But does the same hold true for the presence of academic journals on Twitter? José Luis Ortega examined the role of 350 scholarly journals, analysing how their articles were tweeted and cited. Findings reveal that articles from those journals that have their own individual Twitter handle are more tweeted about than articles from journals whose only Twitter presence is through a scientific society or publisher account. Articles published in journals with any sort of Twitter presence also receive more citations than those published in journals with no Twitter presence.
A multi-author blog collective is an effective way for a university or other knowledge-based institution to host discussion and debate. As part of a series previewing their book Communicating Your Research with Social Media, Amy Mollett, Cheryl Brumley, Chris Gilson and Sierra Williams look at how to set up an institution-based multi-author blog platform; from planning all the way to launch.
Book Review: Communicating Your Research With Social Media: A Practical Guide to Using Blogs, Podcasts, Data Visualisations and Video by Amy Mollett, Cheryl Brumley, Chris Gilson and Sierra Williams
With Communicating Your Research with Social Media: A Practical Guide to Using Blogs, Podcasts, Data Visualisations and Video, authors Amy Mollett, Cheryl Brumley, Chris Gilson and Sierra Williams offer a definitive guide to communicating research using different social media tools. Reflecting on the utility of social media to all facets of the research landscape and lifecycle, this is a valuable book that will encourage readers to find the right platform for their voice, writes Andy Tattersall.
New media, familiar dynamics: academic hierarchies influence academics’ following behaviour on Twitter
For what reasons do academics follow one another on Twitter? Robert Jäschke, Stephanie B. Linek and Christian P. Hoffmann analysed the Twitter activity of computer scientists and found that while the quality of information provided by a Twitter account is a key motive for following academic colleagues, there is also evidence of a career planning motive. As well as there being reciprocal following between users of the same academic status (except, remarkably, between PhD researchers), a form of strategic politeness can be observed whereby users follow those of higher academic status without necessarily being followed back. The emerging academic public sphere facilitated by Twitter is largely shaped by dynamics and hierarchies all too familiar to researchers struggling to plot their careers in academia.
Using social media to curate digital artworks can lead to increased and more dynamic public participation and engagement
Many arts research projects have explored new ways of capitalising on the rich potential of social media to reach out beyond the gallery space and encourage audiences to participate and engage with digital artworks. Claire Taylor describes her recent experience of using Twitter galleries to promote engagement with an exhibition featuring the work of four leading artists from Latin America and the US. Twitter curation can provide an audience engagement that is less cumbersome – and more easily trackable – than traditional “exit surveys”, as it allows for immediate feedback through likes and retweets. Moreover, it can help give a sense of the artwork as dynamic when used to encourage participatory artworks, with “spectators” contributing images and becoming active co-creators.