The stress-free Twitter experience

 

 

In 2020, it looks like more science communicators became more active in social media than ever before. This trend could be partly attributed to the desire to educate a wider audience in the midst of a pandemic. Now is your chance to maximize your social media benefits for science communication, fun and professional development.

As we are slowly moving away from the initial shock of COVID-19, a trace of what scientists can achieve through Twitter, Instagram and search optimization engines when they use lay language has been left behind.

To help scientists improve their science communication activities on social networks, the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) has been organizing webinars on how to use social media platforms, how to engage with other scientists and how to maximize your following. This initiative has been met with overwhelmingly positive feedback by both senior and junior scientists.

For the novices, in social media though, a fascinating piece of feedback came up. 

The stress of building a following and the inevitable frustration when that does not happen after a few tweets packed full of hashtags, leads to them becoming gradually disengaged. 

However, going over the attendees’ feedback and the messages that I was sent personally as one of the event organizers, prompted me to create a summary of ways to best approach Twitter, based on my experience, and what goals to set to maximize enjoyment, relationship building and important information sharing on Twitter.

 

 

Useful resources to questions you’ve been asking!

 

One of the overwhelmingly positive aspects of Twitter is accessibility to updated resources. Interested in knowing how your chances to get an R01 change if you have a PhD vs an MD/PhD? Twitter has the answer, with a link and a nice plot attached to the tweet to get your answer in seconds!

 

 

Sharing good news and celebrate milestones with those to cheered you on along the way!

 

Whether it’s about you or about your students, sharing good news is always fun. The benefits of sharing good news on social media are numerous but, maybe, more importantly sharing good news on Twitter let your followers know what you are up to and that you’ve been successful. 

 

Your Twitter followers, if you’re engaged with them, are actually your network. These are the people that you want to tell when you get a grand or you’re one step closer to getting your PhD or you had a major life event. Additionally, sharing good news, should be an opportunity to acknowledge all those helping you and spread the word on good people doing good work. we all know science is a team sport but a lot of people don’t take the time to publicly acknowledge those helping them. you got an award? 

 

Share on Twitter, and tag your collaborators, your lab maids, your mentors who helped you Excel and to whom part of this award belongs to.

 

 

 

 

A speedy way to learn how to get involved!

 

Are you interested in becoming more active in our society? Are you looking to get involved but don’t know how or you’re not sure of opportunities close to you or what an opportunity would entail or when the deadline is? All those things you can find on Twitter. 

 

Follow your favorite foundations nonprofits and local community outreach programs. Trust me, they all have a Twitter account. 

 

Spread the word on their awesome work and reach out through direct messaging or by simply tagging them to ask if there are opportunities for you to meaningfully contribute to their mission.

 

 

 

Celebrate with others from a distance!

 

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is the importance of having time with your loved ones. but people in the Sciences know very well that sometimes work takes you away from your friends and family. 

 

Whether it’s a PhD or a postdoc, scientists are known to go from place to place four years before their settled. One would argue this is part of their training. That is even more true for international scholars such as myself. Some of us were not able to see our families for over 2 years now with the pandemic and that takes a toll. so, let’s use social media and take comfort in the fact that we are not alone. We can celebrate important events and national Holidays of our country without actually being there by simply engaging with our compatriots online.

 

 

But also make science jokes!

 

But more importantly, social media should be used for fun. If social media is not your source of employment or your hobby or a mandatory part of your day-to-day life, it really has to be fun. so, as you get informed about the latest publication of an old collaborator or a former student or a leader in your field, please also follow accounts that make you laugh.

These accounts are very popular for reason. You really have nothing to lose by following them, just gain a -usually needed- chuckle during your busy workday.

Or share your wisdom with those after you!

 

And for the more senior attendees of this event, I want to urge you to share your wisdom with your followers. Young trainees and postdocs are asking questions all over Twitter about career paths, conundrums the face, problems they have but they don’t feel comfortable sharing with their mentors.

Though you should not feel obligated to fix everyone’s problems or to offer feedback on situations in which you only know part of the story, you can share your path. you can give advice that you stand by and inspire the junior scientists that follow your account. and though advice on how to be a better scientist is always appreciated, please don’t hesitate to share your wisdom on being a scientist or having a scientist background in living life, having a family, balancing your life now and when you were younger. This is especially important for your First Gen followers especially if you’re a first-generation scientist yourself.

Most of us don’t have a family member or a relative to ask those questions so we have to find answers elsewhere. Be a resource to the first generation scientist and you will have served science in an even more profound way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links and Resources for Scientists interested in using Twitter more!

 

Ten simple rules for getting started on Twitter as a scientist

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7010239/

 

You should get Twitter…for science!

https://astrobites.org/2020/01/17/you-should-get-twitter-for-science/

 

How to Use Twitter as a Scientist

https://www.academictransfer.com/en/blog/how-to-use-twitter-as-a-scientist/

 

Our Year on Twitter: Science in #SocialMedia (Trends in Immunology journal)

https://www.cell.com/trends/immunology/pdf/S1471-4906(16)00026-0.pdf

 

How to Make Twitter Work for You (and for Science)

https://scicommessentials.com/blog/how-to-make-twitter-work-for-you-and-for-science

 

Previous ASIPathways article

“Write the Tweet you need in Academia”

https://asippathways.com/2020/11/03/write-the-tweet-you-need-in-academia/

 

 

 

Troubleshooting Productivity As A PhD Student During The Pandemic

Klotho is a membrane enzyme that is associated with life expectancy. The protein takes its name from one of the three Fates, forever destined to weave people’s lives together and cut the threads when their time comes.

We are all weaved together, in this coronavirus recent past, present, and in its future. This is an indisputable fact. Our health, well-being, and livelihood depend on the outcome of our shared circumstance and, most likely, so does our life expectancy. 

While we are waiting for a vaccine to help spin the threads of our human lives a bit farther, we have to stay calm and productive and most of all, we have to stay true to our uniqueness.

The protocol

A myriad of articles like this and webinars like this popped up in my feed and I did my best, as a PhD student, to listen to expert advice and follow protocols of “how to be productive while working from home” but with little success. In this “experiment”, I define “success” by a singular readout: how well did I do compared to life before the lockdown. The experiment was a flop. 

“Set up a daily routine, have a designated workspace in your house, be positive, start small and find out what motivates you”, the article states. These are just some of the great pieces of advice mentioned in the article. I love all of them! I tried all of them. I can argue that they sum up key ingredients for success not just during a pandemic but, rather, during one’s entire career.

Troubleshooting

So, how do I troubleshoot my self-professed failure in this “working from home” experiment? And to make things broader: how can PhD students use this time to identify their individual behavioral self-management patterns and improve? 

I have found three things helpful in this primarily introspective quest:

  1. use time to your benefit
  2. trust the experts
  3. invest in your hobbies

Time can be your friend

I weave the concept of “time” in my newly adjusted productivity routine. I have been using the Pomodoro technique for the past month for great results. If only I had known about its well-documented benefits in March. But the technique only allows me 5 minutes to sulk in this regret. And that’s the point. Make a plan to focus on one thing at a time, block this time off, take short breaks, and get the job done. No excuses. A clock is the only aid you need, and it works like a charm. And when it doesn’t work for more than a few hours, you are still more productive than you’d have otherwise been. 

We are all worried about potentially contracting the virus or how well will our loved ones fare this pandemic, but this is not an immediate problem for the next 20 minutes.  And if it is, then productivity should not even be on the radar, to begin with, and one should focus on self-care rather than productivity, as advised here.

Look close to home for expert advice

As PhD students, we are all aware of how important it is to follow expert advice. So, why should this be any different? Start by focusing on your immediate environment. Luckily, as a student in Boston, I am never short of experts around me. I found myself gravitating towards their advice on how to deal with my day-to-day approach during the pandemic. How do they stay productive? How do they deal with at least quadruple my workload without giving up? How do they stay accountable? I asked them and now I am sorting through what works for me and what doesn’t. Trial and error are essential steps in troubleshooting one’s productivity, ALWAYS. Weave your thread with that of your dean, your advisor, your postdoc. Remember that we are all in this together and they are here to help you succeed. 

Hobbies for the win!

The most interesting activities helping me be more productive recently are the ones linked to my hobbies. Throwing myself to my hobbies happily and immediacy was easy at first. I have 3 single-spaced pages worth of hobbies and ideas I want to explore but never find time for. Go back to learning the accordion, practice portrait photography settings with my yet-to-be-used 50mm lens, revise that screenplay I hastily drafted on a bet a year ago, finish that Coursera course. The list goes on and on. During the lockdown, I felt I wasted a lot of time not being productive because I spent a lot of time in my hobbies. And other PhD students feel the same. But, expanding one’s hobbies is so beneficial in advancing productivity because hobbies help PhD students be more balanced and satisfied individuals, which has a ripple effect on every other aspect of their lives.

Productivity in the days to come

As articles of bleak financial futures for PhD students and job losses for all start dominating the news cycles, it is in our best interest to look at what is within our control to learn how to work better while being happy. 

We all deserve our life’s thread to be less tangled than it currently is but that is largely beyond our control. What we can do is fight to become stronger, embrace our uniqueness and our resilience. That, we can do. It is not too late to start in July. This thread is long and detangling it requires a set of skills some of us are only now beginning to develop. I am grateful for a chance to do that for as long as Klotho allows me!

We talk about how to deal with everything and how to work together at free virtual hangouts for trainees, sponsored by ASIP.

ASIP VIRTUAL HANGOUT FOR TRAINEE MEMBERS

Join your fellow ASIP members and get news and updates at ASIP.ORG

Interested in contributing original content to the ASIP blog?

Contact me marina.anastasiou@tufts.edu to get involved!

 

Combating LIEbraries With Scientific Truth

using media to communicate science

To comment that digital trends and media technology are affecting the general public, is the understatement of the century. Every aspect of our lives can likely get traced back to delicious, little cookies stored in our browsers. What we buy, what we end up liking, who we know; the list is endless. Though this new media reality has redefined consumer culture, using media to communicate science-related content has been oftentimes overlooked. 

troubling statistics

In this timely announcement for an initiative called The Vaccine Project, the authors mention that 1 in 3 U.S. citizens would not take a vaccine for COVID19 if it were available now, according to a Gallop poll. Furthermore, they mention that 1 in 5 Americans get their news from social media.

These are exactly the issues that Tomorrow.Life is trying to address. As the Director of Tomorrow.Life, Dr. Samira Kiani, Associate Professor in School of Medicine and Pittsburgh Liver Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh is ready to get to work outside her lab as well.

Scientists are meeting these depressing statistics with optimism

Harnessing the power of videography and social media to effectively allow bench scientists and medical experts to communicate the scientific truth is both critical and possible.

Tomorrow.life puts emphasis on diversity

Tomorrow.Life is connecting scientists, filmmakers, and community influencers from all over the world to convert vetted scientific narratives into easily communicable stories.

With storytelling at the core of the human experience, we are evolutionarily wired to be responsive to it. Additionally, the immersive engagement coming from visual effects can allow scientists present a story in a graphical manner without plots and graphs. 

Placing emphasis on scientific expertise and international collaboration, a diversity of voice is heard. Furthermore, Tomorrow.Life creators summarize and address the social, ethical, cultural and regulatory implications of each scientific topic.

The end game of Tomorrow.Life is to provide an informed picture on vaccination and gene editing amongst other topics. But Tomorrow.Life is not about scratching the surface. One topic per year is set to be the focus. This year, Tomorrow.Life is focusing on “the Vaccine Question” with a series of short, condensed clips, powered by Filmstacker.

Dr. Samira Kiani is set to present in the PISA2020 session titled Navigating the Socialsphere: A How-to Guide for Promoting Your Scientific Career Online, on Wednesday.

Write the Tweet You Need in Academia

by Marina Anastasiou and Francisco Carrillo-Salinas

With Twitter’s popularity increasing, particularly within the scientific communities, early-stage researchers may be missing out on harnessing the power of this platform. And others may be missing out on what you have to say. Write the Tweet you need in academia!

At a loss? Start here

We put together a set of resources to help anyone interested in becoming more active on Twitter.

Join those academic circles, and receive potentially carrier-boosting opportunities from Twitter-hosted networking.

What’s the hype all about?

A personal favorite reason for using an Academic Twitter is the super-informative threads senior researchers share to provide feedback and wisdom from experience.

Tools such as @storify, mentioned here can help save and archive interesting conversations by really smart people that engage with the community and want to “pay-if-forward”.

learn from the experts

From difficult experiences and inequality to imposter syndrome and the nuances of the lifelong mentor-mentee relationship, one can gain real insights directly from their scientific role models. How cool is that!

But before all that, you can take advantage of all those resources you need to start with a step-by-step guide, a protocol.

The article, “Ten simple rules for getting started on Twitter as a scientist”, recently published Plos Computational Biology, covers all the basics and is, therefore, an excellent resource to get your feet wet in the Twitter ocean.

start sharing

Now you have your account set up and you are ready to share scientific accomplishments (yes! share that paper you just co-authored!) or perspectives based on your experience. But share with whom?

Start by finding your community

No matter the career stage you are in, there is a place for you in the Twitter-sphere. Too scared to talk about actionable steps on promoting mental health during your graduate years? Follow @phd_balance and get creative suggestions on how to cope. 

promote your science

article citations positively correlate with tweets about the article

 Using social media to promote academic research: Identifying the benefits of twitter for sharing academic work 

If you are not convinced yet about the benefits of sharing your work on social media, the article “Using social media to promote academic research: Identifying the benefits of Twitter for sharing academic work”, published in Plos One, shows evidence that article citations positively correlate with tweets about the article. So, don’t wait to see what others can do for you, take a step forward, and promote your science for your benefit!

But, even if you are not ready to share the content yourself or read about scientists as individuals, there is still so much benefit in using Twitter. Just to keep up with the science news and conferences alone is reason enough to join. This is especially critical about arXiv articles as this article mentions here.

Curate your content

Still unsure if becoming involved in the Twitter-based academic communities is for you? Consider spending a day curating the content that reaches your screen. In a world where nearly every aspect of our lives is influenced by search engine optimizations, a curated academic Twitter can be a lifeboat in a sea of constant waves of misinformation and fake news. Additionally, consider using @TweetDeck to cancel out the “white noise” as suggested by this article here and make the most out of your precious decompressing time.

network: your future self will thank you

Are you already semi-involved in Linkedn and you cannot possibly think how more time spent on social media is not a waste of time? It is not.

It is an investment in your future. Currently, most companies use LinkedIn and social media as the first filter for applications in their search for candidates. To summarize, the more interactive you are, the more chances you have for getting the job of your dreams!

Subthreads on academia and industry

Think back on all those you complained about not being exposed to leaders in your field. 

Try to remember how nervous you were before your first postgraduate job interview because you did not know what to expect. Reminisce on how isolated you felt analyzing negative data in year 3 of your PhD while thinking that you cannot possibly be worth the opportunities and trust your advisor gives you.

Guess what! There are AWESOME Twitter subthreats on all those topics!

Get that help! It is free and available to you. People want to help if you let them. ASIP has organized a seminar on that exact topic! Click here to register.

What are you waiting for?