These days, Twitter is becoming a major part of how professionals in nearly all fields communicate and academia has been no exception. Professors, researchers, and experts of all kinds are using the social media site to connect with other professionals, share research, teach students, and even, strange as it might sound, do serious academic research.
While Twitter might not be the first place many would turn to look for academic-quality information and advice, it’s actually a much more valuable tool than you might think. It offers instant access to a wide range of libraries, museums, and archives as well as an incredibly diverse assortment of individuals who can offer feedback, support, and guidance through all parts of the research process. Read on to learn how to make the most of Twitter as a research tool and, whether you’re a college student or a seasoned educator, you’re bound to find a few tips and tricks that will make you consider Twitter the next time you’re putting together a major academic project.
Carefully evaluate potential sources.
Like everything on the Internet, information on Twitter should be carefully fact-checked and all sources should be checked out to make sure they’re valid. A little legwork (mouse work?) up front could save a lot of time in the long run.
One of the best ways to make following a lot of people on Twitter not so overwhelming is by organizing your contacts into lists, with each falling into a specific category that will make it simple to browse.
Want to use a tweet in a paper? Then you need to know how to properly cite it. The MLA has just devised a standard format which you should be using.
Ask for feedback.
What’s the point of a social network if you’re not going to get social or network? Use your Twitter feed to get feedback on any academic research you’re doing, from asking for help with sources to getting ideas on your paper.
Build a professional network.
Twitter is a great place to connect with others in your field, both those just starting out and those with prestigious careers alike. Start following others who share your research interests to build a network that can be a big help anytime you run into problems or concerns with research.
Hook up with traditional sources of information.
Some of the first places you follow on Twitter, provided you’re using it for academic purposes, are libraries, archives, museums, laboratories, and other academic sources of information that are related to your areas of interest. These organizations can often point you toward great materials or help you find the things you need with much less effort, sometimes even from miles and miles away.
Get your tweets noticed by using relevant hashtags. For instance, if you’re researching dinosaurs, just add a hashtag like #dinosaur or #paleontology.
Twitter can be a great place to showcase your published work or to get feedback on work that’s still in progress. Don’t hesitate to show off your accomplishments, it can help you build a better brand and get more valuable connections.
Need help with a tough problem? Can’t find good documents that support your thesis? Just can’t figure out how to use Twitter? Just ask! One of the best benefits of using Twitter in research is being able to easily crowdsource information.
Make connections outside of your field of expertise.
While getting connected to professionals who work in your field can be extremely beneficial, it can also be useful to connect with people in related fields or outside of your line of inquiry altogether. They can sometimes bring up solutions or points of interest that might not occur to someone in your own field.
If you’re a social media newbie, it can be advantageous to spend some time learning about the ins and outs of how it works. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, and will ultimately have a more successful experience in using it for academic purposes, like research.
Decide if Twitter is right for your particular project.
Twitter is great for a lot of purposes, but the reality is that it won’t work for every research project. Decide up front (and be honest with yourself) if Twitter is really the most productive route for research for your field and area of interest.
Use a mobile Twitter interface.
If you’re going to be relying on Twitter for research and academic contacts then make sure you can access it from anywhere by downloading a mobile interface. You can use Twitter’s own app, or take a look at some of the most popular alternatives.
Twitter is about give and take, and if you want others to help you out with research and provide you with interesting information, then you have to be willing to reciprocate. Make tweeting a regular part of your workday to get the most out of the site.
Since Twitter offers access to an easily accessible pool of people from a wide range of backgrounds, it can be a great place to do some simple, informal polling, which can help you in deciding on a direction to take your research.
Live tweet conferences and big events.
Share your experiences at conferences (and document your thoughts for later) by live tweeting them on your feed.
Watch what you say.
The Internet is a public forum and what you say can be hard to take back. Keep everything on Twitter extremely professional.
Keep track of your Twitter progress.
It can be hard to build a good network on Twitter, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. One of the best ways to motivate yourself is to regularly check up on your tweets and your followers to see how well you’re getting your research (and your name) out there.
Blog alongside your Twitter account.
Twitter is great for a lot of things, but not everything can be stated in 140 characters or less. Create a blog to go along with your Twitter feed, which can be used to talk about your research, your life, or anything else on your mind.
Use Twitter to share and document resources.
Found a great resource? Keep track of it and share it with others by tweeting it!
Collaborate with others.
Through Twitter, you can meet others who share your research interests. You may even be able to collaborate on large projects.
Use Twitter as a way to announce your daily research or writing goals. Putting them out there in public will give you a little extra motivation to get the work done.
Take part in Twitter chats.
Twitter chats are a great way to learn more about a given topic, network, or just enjoy a good academic debate. Check out this list for existing chats or create your own.
Use Twitter to find new ideas, resources, and publications.
Twitter can be an amazing place to find inspiration for your research! Reach out, browse, and keep your eyes open for new ideas and sources that can add to any project you’re working on.
Writing papers and getting published can be stressful, especially if you’re still early in your career. One way to deal with the frustrations, headaches, and stresses that come along with the territory is by reaching out to others over the web. They can offer a few words of advice, or just commiserate over the tortures of academic life.
Don’t just connect with scholars and tweeters in your home country. Find people from around the world to talk with on Twitter, expanding both your cultural and your academic horizons.
Revisit old tweets to see how far you’ve come.
Think you’re not getting anywhere on your research? Look back at your old tweets to see how far you’ve come.
Be open and honest.
If you make a mistake on your Twitter, own up to it. If you’re struggling with a project, be honest about it. Even on a professional feed, people want to know that you’re human.
Follow specific themes and topics.
If you’re researching a particular area, start following as many feeds related to that issue as possible. Check the web to see if there are related lists of good feeds to follow to get a head start.
Know your audience.
While a few of your academic colleagues might know what you’re talking about if you use highly technical lingo, your points may be lost on a larger audience. Decide who your intended audience will be before ever penning a tweet.
Know a lot about a subject? Then share what you know! Don’t be afraid to respond to others who are looking for help with research, school assignments, or just a burning question about a given topic.
Ideally, Twitter should be a place that you not only take information away from, but also add valuable information to. Teach some, learn from others, and be open to new ideas and experiences.
Part of having a strong social media presence is building a great online brand, which can make you a go-to source for information on a given subject and can increase your clout in your field. It isn’t without work though, and you’ll have to be dedicated to tweeting, blogging, and being on the web to really make it work.
Source: Online College