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Stanford University School of Medicine

On a changing social media landscape for researchers

phone-958066_1920Many Stanford researchers are social media savvy. They tweet with ease about the latest happenings in their field, pen blog posts or carefully monitor their LinkedIn pages. Others -- both here and elsewhere -- lack the time, or the interest, to cultivate their social media skills.

But increasingly, scientists are benefiting from promoting their own research on social platforms, according to a recent article in Nature. The piece quotes Matt Shipman, a communications specialist at North Carolina State University:

Each researcher must make a personal choice about how much time to spend promoting their work on social media. But judicious use of self-promotion, says Shipman, leads to visibility, which in turn can lead to increased citations and attract talented graduate students and postdocs to the lab. Yet scientists cannot simply flit in and out of the social-media landscape and hope to make a significant impact, Shipman adds. 'Like any other relationship, it takes time and effort to build and sustain an online network.'

The piece also delves into the workings of Kudos, a site created in 2014 — and free to researchers — that offers scientists a one-stop shop for social media, giving each paper an easy-to-read summary and providing analytic features. From the article:

"With so much more research being undertaken and published, the current system of dissemination can no longer guarantee that your work will find its audience,” says [co-founder Charlie Rapple]. Kudos, she says, aims “to make research more discoverable” and to “help researchers get more credit for what they do and achieve more with their work”.


Some of the services Kudos provides are available elsewhere, notes Greg Tananbaum, who owns the California-based ScholarNext consultancy and focuses on scholarly communication and academic technology issues. But integrating them into one site is unique, he says. In particular, Kudos makes it easier for mid-to-late-career academics, who often are wary of social media, to engage on those platforms and measure the impact of that activity. 'Creating a mechanism that makes it easier to onboard them into that world, is novel,' he says.

So, scientists, dive on in. My advice? Be shrewd, confident, clever and a bit humble.

Previously: Advice for young doctors: Embrace Twitter, The benefits and costs for scientists of communicating with the public, Lack of adoption of social media among health-policy researchers = missed opportunity,  More reasons for doctors and researchers to take the social-media plunge and How can physicians manage their online persona? KevinMD offers guidance
Photo by DariuszSankowski

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