Nearly 70 percent of obesity researchers reported using social media for professional purposes in 2014 compared to 42 percent in 2012, according to a 2014 survey conducted by the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR). The most common types of social media included LinkedIn (61 percent), Research Gate (51 percent), Facebook (28 percent), and Twitter (24 percent). Groups like the London School of Economics Public Policy Group encourage researchers to weave social media into dissemination efforts of their findings.
These are some of the reasons why researchers are using social media.
- Get your research read.
With traditional academic channels, articles are generally less accessible to those without subscription or library access. Put very simply, social media allows more people to read your research. This is particularly beneficial when research is particular to other disciplines and as topics are generating debates that are increasingly taking place online.
- Collaborate for greater impact.
Peer-reviewed journals and conference-related activities such as panels and poster sessions—are one-way communication that often doesn’t break into other disciplines. Social media can lead to increased collaborations with other academics outside your usual networks. Research has shown that multi-authored, multi-institutional works have more impact.
- Get concrete, timelier support.
Being part of a research online community means event/work publicity, support, guidance, fact-checking, and more. Also, historically scientists’ knowledge and input mostly goes unapplied due to the long publication timelines. There’s little time left for translation, dissemination, and adaptation. Another benefit of social media is quicker pickup of findings, more rapid discussion about research translation, and greater applicability of findings to programs, etc. Social media helps research be more timely and actionable.