Twitter is a researcher’s paradise. That’s where researchers hang out. And it just feels like being at home. When you’re on there, there’s a lot of other researchers, and I’m also very interested in politics, too, that’s another place where I can get my kicks there.
When I wake up in the morning, all the researchers have been up already. There’s a time phase too, because they wake up at different times of the day. When I get up, the UK researchers have already been awake for 6 hours. And they’ve posted all this stuff that I’m interested in reading. So before breakfast, I could have read three scientific papers on topics that are of interest to me, because I follow people that are interested in the same things that I’m interested in. Through the day, I have this cycle of science to scientific gossip to journalists gossiping with each other, and having these inside jokes about politics. And I just love it. I’m hooked on it. I waste so many hours every day on it.
I would recommend it to scientists. I think it’s really the best way to be connected to the scientific community. You find a lot of scientific resources there. You have a sense of what’s going on in the scientific world. And I think for young scientists, it’s a very difficult world right now. It’s difficult to get tenure track jobs. A lot of the jobs that are available for people with PhDs are not the traditional jobs that your mentor has—and a different kind of life, maybe, is out there for younger scientists. So if you want to get a sense of what the future looks like, I think—it’s on Twitter. You have to go there and see what people are doing what the future is shaping up to be. So I’d recommend it.
How do you use social media to promote your research?
Francoise and I had written a book. So I started the WordPress site—developmentalphonologicaldisorders.wordpress.com—to be able to put some materials about the book for teaching, and also to be able to promote the book ourselves. I started the blog to promote the book. And then I started Twitter to promote the blog. So, it was quite commercial. But then I got totally hooked on it.
I like to be able to communicate to people clearly. I want my research to have clinical impact and not just be piling up publications for my CV, or that I have to meet certain requirements at the university level. There are certain expectations for me as an academic. But I really want to communicate to clinicians, and it turns out it’s a good way to do that, too, to communicate directly.
And also there’s—this is kind of ego, but—there’s something really satisfying about it. I write something, and you post it on your blog, and you can see people reading it in real time. A couple hours later a hundred people have gone there. Once I wrote a blog called “Does speech therapy work?” and within a few hours a thousand people had read that blog. It was very, very satisfying.
I think that science has always been—that progress always comes from conversations among communities of scientists. Twitter and blogging is just the way that we do conversation now. So it’s faster. It’s just way faster than in the old days when you had to take a boat to Europe, and it took a really, really long time. And, you know, it’s hard to keep up with it. But that’s where the conversation is happening.