This post was written by an external contributor. Freya Marshall Payne relays why Twitter can be a great tool for keeping up with academia.
Why would you care about the latest academic research, especially if you’re a student who doesn’t plan on becoming an academic or if you’ve already embarked on another career? Because academic research isn’t something far removed from the real world. It will overlap with your work and your personal interests, sometimes more directly and sometimes less so.
At the end of the day, research is about asking questions and producing new knowledge. You’re constantly developing and challenging the ideas you’re working with all of the time. For example, if you’re in publishing it’s useful to stay on top of new perspectives and changing trends within literary criticism. Even if your career doesn’t have involved academia, there’ll be things that will help your professional development.
For instance, I recently delivered a paper at a conference on fascism, psychoanalysis and surrealism. Surprisingly, the audience wasn’t just made up of academics. I met a police social worker who felt that understanding the roots of fascism would help them in their work as well as satisfying their curiosity.
In short, keeping up with academia can spark innovative ideas for you and allow for knowledge-exchange and networking between industries.
So, how can Twitter help me?
Taking part in academia if you aren’t an academic has traditionally been tough: beyond the specialist language, pay walls making accessing journal articles harder, conferences usually having a registration fee and academic books costing a small fortune.
Enter Twitter. This social media platform really makes academic ideas accessible because it lends itself so well to interaction and conversation. In fact, academics really seem to love Twitter. It’s a quick way to keep an eye on what’s going on in a field and join in discussions!
#AcademicTwitter has a whole host of great hashtags you can use to take part in day-to-day discussion or even follow along with far-away conferences. I’m a massive history nerd and recently missed a conference I wanted to go to. However, by keeping an eye on the Twitter hashtag I felt like I definitely got the gist of it, joined in a few virtual discussions and even found some days later that videos of some papers had been uploaded.
You can follow relevant people and keep up with their research, publications, blogs and thoughts. There’s also some bonus content on there, like TV reccomendations or cute snaps of their dogs.
People tend to be incredibly helpful and kind, especially when you have an interest, but don’t have institutional accesses for journals etc. I’ve had very kind people send me PDF’s of articles and even their own reading lists! It really is a great environment to ask for help, advice and ideas.
How do I make this happen?
Here are some of my top tips for anyone looking to make the most of academic Twitter:
- Great hashtags to follow and use are: #AcademicTwitter, #AcademicChatter and #AcWri
- #PhDchat and #ECRchat is where you’ll find tweets mostly from people starting out their careers in academia, and these hashtags are also lovely places to find advice and join in exciting conversations
- One of terms you’ll be looking for is “open access” content, which you can read without an institutional log-in. Hashtags include #OpenAccess, #OA, #OpenKnowledge and #OpenScience
- Follow journals like History Workshop Journal (@HistoryWO). They really care about accessible and “open access” academia, and you’ll find it’s not just for #Twitterstorians: there are plenty of topical articles using history to shed light on today. Read this piece on family historians for a feel of what this journal does. It’s basically just really cool
- Look out for blogs coming out of universities – like the London School of Economics’ LSE impact blog (@LSEImpactBlog) which specifically wants to make academic research into policy, society and business relevant to the wider world. A recent great example was this blog on what the #TenYearChallenge teaches us about public perception of data