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Why should academics be on Twitter? (Redux)

I have given numerous talks, led many workshops and mentored many a professor on how to use Twitter to engage with their students and the public at large. But every so often I will find a colleague who is not on social media who will ask me why they should be on Twitter (as an example, of all the social networks out there). I took to my own followers on Twitter to ask them (the vast majority of them are academics) why they are on Twitter. Below is the Storify version of our conversation.

Why should academics be on Twitter?

I have written ad nauseam on why I am on social media, as an academic. A colleague of mine at CIDE Region Centro asked me why was it important. This is the series of responses I received to my query, just to showcase how powerful social media is.

Storified by Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega· Wed, Jan 16 2013 06:20:22

Academics (professors, adjunct faculty, and graduate students) share similar objectives and strategies on why they are on Twitter. 
@raulpacheco Organic, non-obsequious, non-networky networking with people you might not otherwise meet.Nils-Hennes Stear
. @raulpacheco I know why I am on Twitter: ‘How I stopped worrying about privacy and learned to love twitter’: Lill Anjum
Geoff Salomons (PhD student, Political Science at UBC) shares his thoughts in a series of tweets.
@raulpacheco 1) learning. I’ve found it invaluable to keep up to date on current events in my field (environment policy) that I can’t getGeoff Salomons
@raulpacheco 1) cont. from a single news source. For example while working on a paper on #NGP would be commentary from NYT, WSJ, EconomistGeoff Salomons
@raulpacheco 2) networking about different aspect of profession. I have a grad school list for stuff like #acwrimo. And #phdchat.Geoff Salomons
@raulpacheco 3) info dissemination. This is just another mode of communication. Helps profs to get out of academic bubble.Geoff Salomons
@raulpacheco 4) occasionally laugh. See #overlyhonestmethodsGeoff Salomons
I have made elsewhere these points, but I would add that the emotional component shared by Aven McMaster is one I have often overlooked.
@raulpacheco @lizgloyn I have found interesting teaching ideas & invaluable emotional & practical support for teaching issues.Aven McMaster
@raulpacheco @lizgloyn These are all particularly valuable to me because I am in a small & isolated dept, but would be useful regardless.Aven McMaster
I have worked hard at making sure my students know I’m a human too, and David Moscrop’s point rings home. 
@raulpacheco Profs need to be humanized – all the better to encourage and facilitate approachability, dialogue, and participation.David Moscrop
Sharing thoughts and ideas is one of the key reasons why I am on Twitter. Even ideas in draft form!
@raulpacheco @lizgloyn I have also been able to bounce ideas off other people in my discipline & ask for pointers to sources for topics.Aven McMaster
@raulpacheco And you see links to those who share research & other interests + building community in a time/cost effective wayDenise Turner
@raulpacheco because you’ll hear about news & field developments you’d otherwise miss.wyzwomyn
@raulpacheco Follow a diversity of people; find new interests you didn’t know even existed.Mark Jull
@raulpacheco links to ideas and controversies of professional academic concern — these rarely hit mainstream news.Merle Massie
@raulpacheco @NSRiazat instant access to bang-up-to-date information, especially in economics/financeGreg Bremner
The networking aspect can’t be overestimated. 
@raulpacheco @lizgloyn I have had people look things up for me in other libraries and access resources I don’t have, to help me.Aven McMaster
@raulpacheco Ability to follow and interact with live tweets of academic events like conferences etc.Donna M. Alexander
@raulpacheco meaningful connections with academics in your research area & interdisciplinary relationships. Info on CFPs/events/publicationsDonna M. Alexander
Knowledge mobilization and dissemination is one of the main reasons why I am (and many other academics are) on Twitter.
@raulpacheco Ability to share your research with the public and other academics by sharing links to published work, conf papers, SFPs etcDonna M. Alexander
@raulpacheco a million reasons, but my favourites are the support network and chance to share your work with wide audienceLucy Shipley
@raulpacheco Why would you not? As researchers/academics we want our work disseminated & our reputation’s to be known – what better way?Denise Turner
Fun is also one reason :)
@raulpacheco because of #overlyhonestmethods and #OverlyHonestReviews … amongst other reasonsrachel
I recently wrote on public intellectualism, and one of the reasons why I am a staunch advocate of open access is because I believe we have a duty with the public to share our knowledge and engage in solving society’s problems.
@raulpacheco Public engagementDonna M. Alexander
But the main reason why I follow my students, and why I think it’s important that professors are on Twitter is the following:
@raulpacheco also because your students are.wyzwomyn
My students engage with me on Twitter to ask questions about assignments, interact with themselves, learn from other academics, network. I am someone who is extremely focused on students, therefore I have all the more reason to be on Twitter. And you can ask my own former students: Twitter has been a useful tool for them too!

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Links and resources and general good stuff! | shakespearescholarinprogress linked to this post on July 15, 2013

    [...] ‘Why should academics be on Twitter?’  (Raul Pacheco) [...]

  2. An online conversation on “the political” – Raul Pacheco-Vega, PhD linked to this post on December 22, 2013

    [...] disciplinary boundaries, conceptual frameworks and definitions. And it all happened on Twitter. Is it really a waste of time? Of course it’s not. It’s a space of learning, research and…. [View the story "A conversation on "the political"" on Storify] tweetmeme_url = [...]

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