A guide to Twitter for researchers - Author Services

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A guide to Twitter for researchers

I’m a researcher. How is using Twitter going to benefit me?

A search in Google will come up with a long list of academics explaining how Twitter has benefited their research, before and after publication. Twitter can be a useful tool to:

  • Connect with other academics in your field
  • Ask questions, (“crowdsourcing”) ideas
  • Spread the word about the research you’re undertaking
  • Publicize your article, increasing downloads, citations (in time) and impact

Read our case study for an example of how a topic, an active academic, and the use of social media can come together to raise the profile and impact of their research.

How to sign up to Twitter and create your profile

Your profile page is effectively your “shop window” so try to make it unique, something that says who you are and what you do. Your username can be your own name (e.g., @JohnSmith) or something a bit more esoteric (e.g., @mathsgenius). Remember though, if you use your own name it may be easier for others to find you.

Use your profile to tell people about your research and experience, what you teach, and what your interests are. Link to your blog or website too, so people can explore more, and try to add a photo so people can recognize your tweets immediately on their feed.

Who should I follow on Twitter?

Following the right people and organizations automatically personalizes your Twitter feed (the list of tweets that come up on your home page), and helps Twitter tailor the recommendations it makes to you. You are bound to have a list of colleagues who already use Twitter, so you can start with these. Then think more widely: follow people you admire, organizations you have an interest in, media outlets, and researchers working on related areas to you.

You can use the Twitter list functionality to group accounts you’re interested in and create a mini-feed so it’s easier to keep up-to-date with their latest tweets.

Tips for tweeting about your research

  • Announce your published work along with a link to your article. Tag co-authors, your publisher (e.g. @tandfonline), funder and institution, and anyone else you think might be interested in your paper. For Twitter you can post multiple times a day.
  • Ensure your post describes the article or topic accurately. Aim to ‘edutain’ – teach them something useful in an enjoyable way. Do not use the article title as the entire social media copy. Engage with your audience by asking them questions linked to the content of the article. Tweets are limited to 280 characters per tweet, so be concise and to the point.
  • Include hashtags that your intended audience are using, spend time doing a little research on Twitter beforehand to find the best ones to use. This will make your tweet part of a bigger conversation, meaning you might reach an even wider audience for your research. If you’re attending a conference use the conference hashtag (e.g. #ScholarlySummit) to discuss ideas raised during the conference, as well as to make connections during and afterwards.
  • Consider including a relevant and engaging image, gif or video to represent your article, as this can make posts more appealing and encourage people to read and click. Make sure the image is copyright free before using or make sure you give credit to the artist.
  • Engage in Twitter conversations and retweet what you find interesting. You can do this using Twitter’s retweet or you can add some context (and interest) by adding your own comments. You can also respond to tweets, giving your view but remember to always include the username of the person you’re responding to (e.g., @JohnSmith).

These are just some starter tips; you can also direct-message people, thank people if they retweet you, ask questions, or set up polls.

A Twitter success story

Infographic - using social media to promote your research
Click to expand

‘Moving to a world beyond “p < 0.05’, published in the The American Statistician is an example of one article for which using Twitter made a difference…

  • Tweeted by 1482 accounts
  • 1651 tweets with a reach to over 2.5 million combined followers
  • Picked up by the Times Higher Education and The Conversation
  • Over 156,000 article views

The Altmetric data available on Taylor & Francis Online enables you to see the attention your article is getting including whose talking about your research on social media. Find out more about measuring impact with Altmetric.

Further resources

A social media guide for journal editors: how to plan, grow, and maintain a journal social media account

What does the social media editor of a journal do?

Tips for dealing with online harassment in academia

External resources

If you’re looking to jazz up your social media ads, we recommend visiting Canva.

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