researchers should embrace talking about their research in 140 characters or less

I recently blogged about my experience at the AAAS Meeting, where I talked about my research findings to a broad audience that included journalists. In one of the sessions, it was revealed that only 3% of scientists will talk to journalists over the course of their lifetimes. Maybe we as a nation should be more interested in science news. But I also think that scientists and engineers should embrace the broader impacts of our research and be proactive with outreach efforts.

A tweet from one of them (Liz Neeley from CompassOnline) drove home the point that part of the reason that scientists can do a better job. I put my twitter handle and blog URL on my title slide, and pointed this out when I started my talk.

I was surprised that my twitter handle was “news.” But apparently it’s weird for an academic to include a twitter handle on slides.

I got ~12 new followers during my talk. I have no regrets.

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2 responses to “researchers should embrace talking about their research in 140 characters or less

  • Vince

    I liked this post and had noticed on your slideshare slides that you had your twitter handle on the front of your slides. I always have mine (I actually point to my G+ profile instead of twitter but anyway…) on the last slide of my talk and don’t really make a big deal about it. I think I might change that and put my details on the front and also emphasise it a bit more :)

  • AfterMath

    I think this is such an important topic.

    I mean, I know that to a very small set of people, finding a polynomial time algorithm to solve an aptly named problem will generate interest. But if I make this same statement to someone I meet at Starbucks who asked what I study, its likely to end the conversation.

    As we seek to generate interest (either in our own research, or in general STEM areas) from people who do not already claim to be experts, we need to be in the practice of talking about our work in laymen’s terms, as best as possible. If we do a good job, they’ll likely ask follow up questions and we can go into more detail as appropriate.

    I think that one problem in the general STEM areas is that many treat general audiences the same way they do conferences. But just like a QB on the sideline isn’t going to talk to the press the same way he talks to his coach or his team, we need to be able to communicate in both worlds.

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