Science and social media may seem contradictory at first, but that’s not necessarily true. In fact, there are several benefits to publishing the results of scientific studies on social media, according to a team of researchers led by a doctoral student at the University of Alberta, Canada.
Clayton Lamb and his two colleagues Sophie Gilbert and Adam Ford, three researchers specializing in ecology and conservation, have studied the popularity of 8300 scientific studies published between 2005 and 2010 in this field.
They wanted to find out if being active on social media allowed a researcher to become known more quickly by the scientific community.
Posting the results of a research on social media, on Twitter, on blogs and even on other platforms can certainly increase the number of referrals made by peers, the researchers found.
Evaluating the enthusiasm for a scientific study on social media is therefore a much faster way of assessing the impact of an article, as this usually happens in the first days after publication. “It can take three to four years to find out if a study will be peer-referenced,” explains Clayton Lamb.
Sophie Gilbert, co-author of the study and associate professor at the University of Idaho, believes that, beyond the scientific community, social media is a good way to convey truthful information to a wider audience.
She believes that the demand is there. “People are contacting scientists as a source of information in a way that was impossible before,” she says.
According to Sophie Gilbert, social media like Twitter can create more proximity, and even a bond of trust between individuals and scientists.
The great thing about social media is that you can connect with someone, even if you’ve never met them.
–Sophie Gilbert, Associate Professor at the University of Idaho
“For example, when someone in the audience follows me on social media, we have conversations that are much more human than we could have had otherwise,” explains Sophie Gilbert.
“When I publish truthful scientific information, there is much more chance that the audience will listen to me and trust me,” she says.
“We hope to see more science in a world full of fake news and alternative facts,” says Clayton Lamb. “The more we make science known, the more effective our discussions will be. ”
Sophie Gilbert also hopes that more and more researchers will choose to publish the results of their research on social media.
“I think there is still a big gap in the potential that can be achieved. It’s really encouraging to see how much the public is interested in science on Twitter,” she says. “I think we could do more, I think that’s what people want and it’s up to us to take that responsibility. “