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TSRI Scientists Share Social Media Tips



TSRI Scientists Share Social Media Tips

By Madeline McCurry-Schmidt

At The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), researchers use Twitter to follow the latest headlines in their fields and connect with other researchers.

TSRI researchers Andrew Su, Katie Fisch and Kelvin Chan have a few tips for other scientists looking to experiment with Twitter:

1. Start simple

Twitter is a social networking site that launched in 2006. Anyone can create an account and start posting updates. There’s just one rule: posts must be short—140 characters or fewer. Many people see Twitter as a list of headlines. Each “tweet” is a little newsflash, and users add links to the full stories.

There are over 600 million users on Twitter, so it is easy to get overwhelmed. “The hardest part is getting started,” said Andrew Su, an associate professor at TSRI. Su suggested searching for science writers who cover a lot of topics in science. “Those people are excellent social network hubs, and from there you can branch out to other writers and scientists in more specific scientific niches,” Su said.

When users log into Twitter, they see a search box at the top of the page. By searching “biology,” for example, users can find people, institutions and companies who have used the word in tweets. When a Twitter user seems interesting, they click the “Follow” button to receive future tweets from that user on their own Twitter news stream.

Learn more: Getting Started with Twitter

2. Find new papers and grants

Many scientific journals and labs use Twitter as a quick way to share research.

Katie Fisch, a research associate at TSRI, checks Twitter for links to tools, methods and papers. Publications like Science (@ScienceNews), Nature (@NatureNews) and PLOS Biology (@PLOSBiology) are very active on Twitter.

“It’s a good way to see what the academic world is doing,” said Fisch. “I have now spent more time than I like to admit checking it.”

Many researchers use Twitter to search for funding opportunities. The NIH Funding (@NIHFunding) Twitter account sends daily tweets to more than 20,700 followers.

Learn more: An Introduction to Social Media for Scientists and The role of Twitter in the life cycle of a scientific publication

3. Add science to the discussion

Twitter is teaming with news about the latest “cure” for cancer or “miracle” diabetes treatment. By joining Twitter, scientists can share the real stories behind their research.

Kelvin Chan, a PhD candidate at TSRI, suggested that scientists add the facts to scientific discussions on Twitter. “You can just tweet about one topic—something where you have interest,” said Chan. He recommended that researchers start by tweeting about their own work. “You are already the expert in that field.”

4. Use Twitter to practice your “elevator pitch”

Remember how Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters? Chan thinks this restriction is actually a good thing for scientists.

“A lot of us are very good at explaining but not very good at being concise,” said Chan. He said posting about science on Twitter helps him narrow down findings to the key points.

To sign up for a Twitter account, go to

You don’t have to have a Twitter acount to read posts. To read posts from TSRI (@scrippsresearch), go to To follow or read posts from Su (@andrewsu), Fisch (@kathleenfisch) and Chan (@CelsiusChan), go to, and

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“The hardest part is getting started.”
—Andrew Su









“It’s a good way to see what the academic world is doing.”
—Katie Fisch









“You can just tweet about one topic—something where you have interest.”
—Kelvin Chan