BrainWaves: The Neuroscience Graduate Program Newsletter

Open Your MiND to Twitter: Four Reasons to Start a Professional Twitter

AUTHOR: Carly McIntyre-Wood (@CMcIntyreWood)

We’ve all experienced it: social media can lead to procrastination and detract from our productivity. But can it also make us better scientists? Twitter is quickly becoming a staple in the scientific community. Here are four reasons to get on board with using Twitter to further your scientific career.


Twitter can be a great resource for meeting like-minded scientists and getting to know them in a less formal way. It gives scientists a platform to express themselves and show their personality, hobbies, passions, and research interests. These connections can facilitate conversations at conferences, provide a point of contact for questions and advice, and may even be a stepping-stone to future collaborations.

Research Dissemination

Twitter provides a great platform to improve and track both the scholarly and non-scholarly attention your articles receive. Increasing the attention your article receives can improve your societal impact through both exposure to a wider audience and increased academic citations. This is important as journals and funding agencies are more and more utilizing alternative metrics to gauge the impact of research. For example, PlumX is now used by Elsevier to track various metrics, including number of tweets, to better understand the impact of articles. These scores can also be included on CVs and resumes to showcase your work. In addition to non-scholarly attention, tweets are correlated with scholarly attention through citations: a study by the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that   more likely to end up being highly cited (Eysenbach, 2011). It may be that more tweets led to increased citations, or that the correlation was due to underlying qualities of the research. Notwithstanding, Twitter presents an opportunity to increase the social impact of your research!


Exposure to Opportunities

Your Twitter feed can be a great resource for exposure to new opportunities such as postdoctoral fellowships, funding applications, and volunteer positions. Research centres and organizations often make use of Twitter to advertise, given there is no cost, and it increases the likelihood of the position being seen by a wider audience.  In addition, since you are able to follow labs from around the world, it is a great way to discover exciting opportunities in unexpected locations!


Follow Important Updates

By following certain journals, researchers, and hashtags on Twitter, it is easy to learn about new research and discuss relevant scientific issues! Since posts are limited to 280 characters plus videos and images, your feed is a very efficient way to find articles and news that are relevant to your research or personal interests. In addition, live-tweeting has also become a great way to follow proceedings at conferences, especially if you are unable to attend but still want to be involved in discussions. Some great hashtags and pages you may want to start with are #ShowUsYourScience, @NeuroScienceNew, @HelloPhD, and of course, @NeuroscienceMac and @somaminds!


Whether you choose to actively tweet or quietly follow discussions, Twitter has something for everyone. For some tips on starting your own Professional Twitter, please see this link. Happy Tweeting!



Eysenbach, G. (2011). Can Tweets Predict Citations? Metrics of Social Impact Based on Twitter and Correlation with Traditional Metrics of Scientific Impact. Journal of Medical Internet Research13(4). doi: 10.2196/jmir.2012