Scientists are slow on the uptake when it comes to communicating through social media, according to a New Zealand-U.S. study out Thursday.
The study by University of Otago and University of Miami researchers was the first to survey scientists on their attitudes towards social media—specifically Twitter—and show how they were using digital channels to communicate their research with the public and one another.
The survey of 587 scientists from a range of academic disciplines found that while scientists were yet to widely adopt social media, the ones that did saw many possible advantages to using it in the workplace.
“Most scientists saw the benefit in using Twitter they said it was a good way to access a large and diverse audience,” University of Otago researcher Kimberley Collins said in a statement.
“They also appreciate the ease of communicating in snippets, how little time it takes, and how accessible it is.”
The study also found that scientists mostly used Twitter to communicate with colleagues and share peer-reviewed literature within the scholarly community.
“Many scientists said they use Twitter to communicate specifically with other scientists. Some used it as a forum to share their research directly with the public and media, but most saw it as a tool to share research within their field and to stay updated with science outreach and communication,” said Collins.
Despite the professional benefits associated with it, relatively few academic scientists currently used social media.
Misunderstandings of the disadvantages of social media use might have contributed to the relatively limited use, which could be corrected by professional development training workshops or clearer departmental social media usage policies, she said, reports Xinhua, Wellington.