Why tweet about your research?

In Social Media for Academics, Mark Carrigan highlights the value of twitter and social media for the dissemination of research.  He cites an example of one of his own papers and I thought it might be useful to blog about my own experiences surrounding a recent paper.

Through my own sharing of the paper and then others retweets and sharing, the paper rapidly gained a high altmetric score, in fact in just a few weeks it was one of the top 10% of articles that had been score ever and the highest in the journal, and from the snapshot below, in less than one month, it is one of the top 5% of research outputs ever tracked. This score continues to rise and as of today, 2 weeks later its score now sits at 30.

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I have cautioned before on this blog about using Twitter simply as a form of dissemination, and as such have been careful not to simply spew out links to the paper. This does not mean I limited myself to one tweet, however. It was interesting to see that even after ten tweets, there were still people I regularly interact with on twitter picking it up for the first time. Ways in which I did this was linking it to relevant other stories, tweeting directly to people who might be interested and changing the content of the tweet to interest different audiences

Another strategy I adopted was to pin a tweet with the link to my timeline. This was particularly useful when I was speaking at the BSA conference and at another event as it meant people who were looking at tweets for the event had easy access and I am sure that in part quite a few of the downloads were through this.

Due to the paper’s high altmetrics score, Taylor and Francis #readmyresearch initiative has now made the paper open access for a period of time. The impact this had on further exposure and downloads has been immense.  These have gone from just under 250 downloads to over 450 in the past two weeks. Obviously, this is largely due to the article becoming open access the value of which has been extensively documented elsewhere.

As Melissa Terras cautions against in her blog, downloads don’t really give the full story and it may be a number of years before I understand to what extent my work may or may not have been used as a result. That being said, as authors we write in the hope that someone will read our work and without twitter, I do not think that this paper would have gained anywhere near the attention it has.




Book Review: Academic Diary – Les Back

Like the author, Academic Diary is generous, insightful and full of hope. I feel this book offers in the antidote to the cynicism that the neoliberal academy can sometimes engender. Having read some of the entries before in web form on www.academic-diary.co.uk, I had an idea of what to expect but the new additions and the renewing of some of the narratives makes for an engaging read. So much so that I ended up devouring it in one sitting.

A collection of short essays curated in the form of a diary that documents the ebb and flow of the academic year, Academic Diary offers a blend of anecdotes, insights, and advice for academics of all stages in their careers. As a doctoral student, however, I feel that this is a book that should be read by all early career academics as not only does it offer an insight into the realities of academic life but to also highlights some of the ways to engendering a different form of academic being, one that is generous and counteracts some of the pressures of the often crushing pressures of the neoliberal academy.

Like many of you who choose to now read it, I’m sure some of the stories will resonate. For me it was the power of the library Angel as Les terms it, that happening upon a hidden gem on the shelves of a library that cannot be replaced in digital forms. These insights offer a chance to share his wealth of experience and offer a unique and insightful analysis that made me nod in agreement, not in the pavlovian way in which the author describes the conference attendee, but in a way that one does when finally realising that some of what you felt were personal quirks are actually shared experiences.

In the early part of the book, Les talks of reading Stuart Hall and how ‘reading his words on the page I could almost hear his unique voice, his sense of humour’ (p.41). This really encapsulates what this book does for me. I felt that through his characteristically accessible language, Les’ voice jumped right off the page, I found myself pausing, reading in a measured way so characteristic of his voice.

The most heartening element of the book is the fact that it lays bare some of the struggles that even the most experienced academic feels, those hidden insecurities, the fear of the blank page and the juggling act between surviving in the neoliberal academy and doing what is felt to be right and just. I would suggest that this is a must read for anyone who needs to find a renewed hope within the world of academia and for those considering embarking on a career in the academy.