I didn’t plan to write a follow up post to my previous blog post about scientist and social media this soon. But earlier this month the editor-in-chief of the Swedish newspaper Göterborgs-Tidningen and columnist at Expressen, Frida Boisen, wrote a column about this topic and I felt that I needed to mention this. The title of her column was “Sluta gömma er i universitetsvärlden” which loosely means, stop hiding in the university world.
In her column she asks why there are so few scientists on social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Our Universities receives millions in funding from tax payers money so scientists like me can conduct research to increase our knowledge. For this reason Frida finds it unacceptable that scientists isolate themselves and not share their vast knowledge with the world outside academia.
If you have read my previous post about this topic you know that I’m an advocate for scientists using social media. I listed six benefits that both scientists and the public can gain if scientists use social media. But I also wrote that being active online as a scientist is also about putting the scientist out there and not only the science. This is clearly illustrated in this blog where you can read what we, as scientists at Karolinska Institutet, are doing both inside and outside the lab. Personally I’ve only written briefly about my cancer research, but more is coming.
In addition to lack of time which is the most common excuse scientist give for not being online, Frida mentions in her column that a researcher had told her that 140 characters (which is the limit on Twitter) are not enough to explain his/her research. Though that’s not entirely wrong, Twitter can still be a good tool to communicate ones research. As Frida writes, one could use Twitter to redirect followers to your research report/article. Or why not to a blog where you blog about your work and why it is important in a way that non-scientist will understand. A well informed and scientific literate public is, as Leonidas writes, the cornerstone of a functioning society. Furthermore, if the public understands WHAT you are doing and WHY it is important, there is a greater chance that research is given more money.
But the question that still remains is how do we get more scientists online? Is a longer list of benefits needed to convince scientists? Or should we put more emphasis on crowd funding to fund research? If that would be the case it would “force” scientists to be more open and start talk with the public to convince them that their research is important (like politicians). Is this a good idea? I’ve thought about doing this. Let me know what you think. I’m curious to know.
Dudi.Warsito@ki.se or comment below.