Twitter for Academics

28th February 2018

News, Student news

Tweets that debunk the latest cancer scare or chart the life of a 19th century computer scientist are a powerful tool for academics wanting to share ideas and reach a wider audience.

  • Professor Trish Greenhalgh

Professors Trish Greenhalgh (Green Templeton) and Ursula Martin (Wadham) shared their experiences with Twitter and discussed its benefits for academics  at an event for MCR and SCR members organised by Wadham’s Research Associates.

Research Associate Aro Velmet reports:

"Trish Greenhalgh, who is a professor of Primary Care Health Sciences, has accumulated near 32,000 Twitter followers, and tweets regularly on topics ranging from debunking the latest tabloid cancer scare/cure to exciting new research and political questions such as Brexit. Ursula Martin is completing a manuscript on the life of the 19th century computer scientist Ada Lovelace and tweets exclusively about her.

"The event, which was attended by Wadham fellows, MCR members, and guests, began with an overview of the popular platform. Prof. Greenhalgh demonstrated her twitter feed, explained how to follow, block or mute people, and even showed the audience her private message inbox. She emphasized that "Twitter can be whatever you want it to be“, that, contrary to popular belief, it need not take up a lot of time, and is an excellent way to spread good research, to promote books and articles, and simply to engage with the academic and lay communities.

"Prof. Martin, who tweets primarily about her new project discussed the importance of powerful followers – people whose retweets reach wide audiences – and how to think about your Twitter 'persona'. Institutional tweeting can be quite different from personal tweeting, and is a skill unto itself she said.

"In the question and answer session, audience members asked about the pros and cons of remaining anonymous on Twitter, the danger of twitterstorms and harassment (specifically given the backlash to Mary Beard’s recent tweet around the breaking down of 'civilizational' norms in disaster zones), and differences between different kinds of social media (Facebook v Twitter). Vibrant discussion on these topics continued over dinner and, of course, on Twitter."