Also, the meaning of the term “
published” can include online publishing. This
includes work that has been posted to a
blog, Web site, or large social-networking
site. Posting details of your research online
could affect your ability to subsequently
submit it to a peer-reviewed journal or to
apply for a patent. So be careful what you
choose to reveal and when.
My Reputation Could Be
At the same time, you won’t want to post
silly updates such as this one:
“We didn’t read half of the papers we
cite because they are behind a paywall
Always keep your tweets professional, and
save the lab jokes for happy hour. Some-
one who is competing against you or wants
to cut your funding, would love to see a
Tweet like that and discredit you.
At first glance, Twitter seems to be
everything scientists should avoid, and it’s
good to be cautious. However by not joining Twitter you are losing the opportunity
for making important professional connections and staying up-to-date.
The first step is to set up your account.
When you choose your username, keep
it consistent with other social media you
use professionally. I use @lisabmarshall on
Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, so people
can easily find me on any network. Also
use a clear, simple, professional headshot
photo. You should smile and look approachable. Don’t use pictures that are too
personal, cartoons, or graphics.
When you first set up your account,
Twitter requires you to follow five tweeters.
Choose appropriate professional connections. I suggest starting by following curators of relevant scientific information such
as @ACSpressroom, @NatureChemistry,
@Wiley_Chemistry, @ChemistryNews, @
ACSGradsPostdoc or any of your specific
favorite science journals. Don’t add your
friends and family since this is your professional account.
Write a Useful Bio
Take time to carefully craft your bio; don’t
skip it. Others will use your photo and bio
to determine if they want to connect with
you. You only have 160 characters includ-
ing spaces. It should be professional, but it
can also be catchy. Here are two examples:
“Grad student studying organic chemistry
and C–H functionalization at Emory Uni-
versity…soon to be PhD chemist.”
“Graduate student in chemistry, indie
music listener, Philly sports fan, proud
How to Listen on Twitter
Now that you’ve set up your account,
you’re ready to start tweeting, right? Not
quite. I recommend you spend some time
listening before you start tweeting.
What do I mean by listening? Carefully
select who to follow and then pay attention
to what they say and how they say it. A
great way to find people is through curated
Twitter lists. For example, check out this
comprehensive list of scientific journals
and this one focused specifically on chemistry journals.
Journals in the second list include
Chemical Biology & Drug Design, Chemistry Central, Macromolecules, Journal
of Medicinal Chemistry, Int. Journal of
Quantum Chemistry, and over 65 more.
You can choose to subscribe to the entire
list of journals, or just follow individual
journals for the latest news and information and later to join discussions and
Also, check who follows lists to discover relevant individuals. When you click
Finally, before your Twitter
signal-to-noise ratio prompts
a concern, I suggest using a
Twitter dashboard tool (e.g.,
Hootsuite, TweetDeck) to help
organize and manage Twitter
along with your other social
GRADUATE & POSTDOCTORAL CHEMIST l 11
on “List Subscribers”, you’ll see a list of
Twitter followers and their bio information. Use this information to make your
selection. For example, if you look briefly
at the subscribers of the scientific journals
list, you’ll see medical researchers, graduate students, chemists, and people from
unrelated professions like banking and
You can also find interesting professionals who tweet about chemistry in
the Chem groups and tweeps list or this
Twibes scientific tweeters list, or by searching by chemistry-related hashtags (e.g.,
#chemistry or #scifund, etc.). Once you
find someone you want to follow, click on
their name and review their recent tweets
to decide if you’ll benefit from following
them or if they’ll just add clutter to your
Now that you’ve found relevant news,
information, and colleagues in your area
to follow, you may be tempted to join in on
a discussion, but sit back, watch, and learn.
This will help you get an idea of the types
of tweets that are helpful and professional
and the type of tweets you want to avoid.
Only then should you begin tweeting.
A tweet is a comment that you send out to
your followers. It can be up to 140 characters. Use the symbol to join a conversation or tag someone in your tweets. Don’t’
forget to use appropriate hashtags so others
can find you.
Finally, before your Twitter signal-to-noise ratio prompts a concern, I suggest using a Twitter dashboard tool (e.g.,
Hootsuite, TweetDeck) to help organize
and manage Twitter along with your other
social media accounts.
In part 2 of this series, we’ll discuss
more ways Twitter can be useful for scientists, such as conference tweeting and job
Communication expert Lisa B. Mar-
shall ( www.lisabmarshall.com) delivers
workshops, is the
author of Smart
Talk and Ace Your
host of the Public
Speaker, a free top
i Tunes podcast.