Using Twitter in university research

@CBUresearch recently shared a “Guide to using Twitter in university research, teaching, and impact activities” [PDF]. It’s published by the London School of Economics.

Twitter is a free social networking service that lets you write 140-character messages, called “tweets”. These can be read by anyone in the world, and they look like this:

You might ask:

“…how can such a brief medium have any relevance to universities and academia, where journal articles are 3,000 to 8,000 words long, and where books contain 80,000 words? Can anything of academic value ever be said in just 140 characters?”

In fact, Twitter is quite versatile. It can be used to promote your research, and related events like public talks. It can be used to solicit feedback on your research. It can even be used during the research phase itself:

“Twitter provides many opportunities for ‘crowd sourcing’ research activities across the sciences, social sciences, history and literature – by getting people to help with gathering information, making observations, undertaking data analysis, transcribing and editing documents – all done just for the love of it. Some researchers have also used Twitter to help ‘crowdsource’ research funding from interested public bodies. You can read more about crowdsourcing at the LSE Impact blog.

You are an expert. And Twitter is a medium people often turn to, to find experts in the field of their interest. If you’re not there, they can’t find you! Those people might be PhD students, other researchers, or lay people. You can use Twitter to not only strengthen your reputation as an expert, but to expand your reach beyond the confines of the university.

“Making links with practitioners in business, government, and public policy can happen easily. Twitter’s brevity, accessibility and immediacy are all very appealing to non-academics.”

The guide starts with the basics:

  • How to create an account
  • Useful terminology
  • Examples of writing styles, and the pros and cons of each style
  • Tips on how to increase the number of people who might read your ‘Tweets’

Read the guide, experiment a little, and see how Twitter can work for you.