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Library Research Support: Social Media for Researchers

Support for Research Staff & Research Students

Social Media for Researchers

This guide provides guidance and examples for authors on using social media effectively to share their research output? Have any tips? Let us know!

  1. Scholarly Collaboration Networks: Services such as ResearchGate, and LinkedIN
  2. Making the most of Twitter: Tips for sharing news of your research via Twitter
  3. Social Media for Researchers: Published guidance and research on academic use of Social Media.

For issues around Research Ethics and Research Integrity and the use of Social Media for research, please see the Policy & Governance team in Research & Innovation Services.

Scholarly Collaboration Networks

Why do academics use scholarly collaboration networks?

Reasons many academics use Academic Social Networks (or Scholarly Collaboration Networks (SCNs)) include:

  • Promoting your own research.
  • Providing a means for others to get in touch with you (as you may move from institution to institution, and institutional, project group, lab or other email or profile pages may change, or even personal web pages lapse or become difficult to maintain).
  • Discovering and reading new research.
  • Sharing your own research publications and other outputs.
  • Engaging and commenting in online discussions around subjects, methodology and research best practice.
  • Following (passively) ongoing academic discussions.
  • Discovering and applying for employment opportunities within and outside of academia.
  • Data collection for research


ResearchGate logo


ResearchGate was founded in 2008, and now boasts over 17 million members worldwide. It is free to join, and free to leave, and allows you to create and build on online profile, visible to other academic and commercial researchers, to share knowledge, expertise and scientific outputs. You can see who's been reading and citing your work within ResearchGate, engage in discussions by asking and answering questions, and explore and apply for research jobs advertised within the site.

Please note that on Thursday 5th October 2017, the Coalition for Responsible Sharing, which represents publishers including Elsevier, American Chemical Society, Wiley, Brill and Wolters Kluwer, released a press statement indicating they would be issuing formal take-down notices to ResearchGate to remove materials posted in breach of copyright agreements signed with publishers. This will include scholarly articles posted by authors to their ResearchGate profiles. On the 13th June 2019 the group published their second status update on ResearchGate's copyright compliance status. Similar action was taken in 2013 by Elsevier targeting articles posted to and other sites which were viewed by the publisher of having ben posted in breach of copyright agreements with the publisher, as copyright holder.

A platform to allow researchers to share their research outputs with other academics, with a company mission to "accelerate the world's research," has over 95 million members worldwide, and provides access to over 23 million research papers.

study published in 2016 suggested that papers made available via attracted on average 16% more citations after one year compared to papers published but not accessible from This reflects a similar 'citation advantage' reported of many papers made 'open access', but Durham authors should note that is not an open access repository, that making your research paper available via does not meet the open access requirements of most funders, and may breach copyright agreements you have with your publisher.



LinkedIN is an online professional network with over 400 million members worldwide. Whilst ResearchGate and Academia have a strong focus (and membership base) amongst the academic and wider research community, LinkedIN can help you raise your online profile and visibility around your research expertise and output to commercial, public sector and third sector employers, collaborators and potential beneficiaries.



Kudos is a free to use platform for academic authors. It claims to be "the only platform dedicated to dissemination across the multiple networks and channels available to researchers for sharing information about their work," and works with publishers, universities, research funders, metrics providers and commercial and not-for-profit organisations to help researchers build and track impact for their work.

Kudos provides a simple toolkit to support authors in communicating their research to a broad audience, using plain language and recommending appropriate communication channels.

Social Media for Researchers: Reports, Surveys & OA Research 2010-2020

Innovations in Scholarly Communication, Global Survye 2015-16

Kramer B and Bosman J. Innovations in scholarly communication - global survey on research tool usage [version 1]. F1000Research 2016, 5:692 ( See also - (Results: Interactive Dashboard) (Survey Raw Data)

Researchers of Tomorrow: the research behaviour of Generation Y doctoral students (2015)

JISC: Education for Change (2012, Revised 2015) Researchers of Tomorrow: the research behaviour of Generation Y doctoral students. Available from JISC here.

Social Media: A Guide for Researchers (2011)

Research Information Network and the International Centre for Guidance Studies (2011) 'Social Media: A Guide for Researchers' Available from RIN

How Are Scientists Using Social Media in the Workplace? (2016)

Collins, K., Shiffman, D. and Rock, J. (2016) How Are Scientists Using Social Media in the Workplace? PLoS One 11(10): e0162680.

Vitae Innovate Handbook of social media for researchers and supervisors, Open University (2012)

Vitae Innovate and the Open University (2012) Handbook of social media for researchers and supervisors. Available from Vitae here.

Nature: Social Media for Scientists (Collection) (2020)

Nature Publishing: Social media for scientists: Social media can be both a friend and a foe to scientific productivity. Here’s the best coverage, analysis and help and advice from Nature on how to use social media to strengthen your science without sacrificing productivity.

Twitter Tips for Researchers

Twitter Tips for Researchers

The following guidance is aimed at new users of Twitter, or existing users of Twitter wishing to review how they use it as a tool for communicating their research. Have your own tips.. let us know! We will cover:

  • Including links to your publications, or publications you have found, to ensure followers can avoid paywalls.
  • Using hashtags to plug in to existing conversations
  • Using images and video to increase the visibility of your messaging
  • Considering timing in your twitter activity, including tools to identify when and how to schedule activity to reach your intended audience.
  • Making the most of your Twitter handle and Twitter Bio
  • Tools to help manage your time and use of Twitter
  • Wanting to search for content on Twitter? Tools and tips to hone your search to help you find what you want, and keep up to date with the conversation.

Making it easy for people to access your research

If you are sharing your publication via social media:

  • Include a DOI (where available) to provide a permanent, direct link to the published article.
    • it will also be picked up in altmetric data and (where someone has access), download statistics curated by the publisher.

But remember! Not everyone will have subscription access to your published output via the DOI if it isn't open access!

  • Include a url to an open access version of the article (e.g. to the output in Durham Research Online, or the DOI if you have paid for open access for that article)
    • This will help anyone to access the article without hitting a subscription or paywall barrier.

It can be tricky to fit both links and some enticing text into a single tweet, but it can be done! Example in the image below:


'Hashtags' help link posts which are related by theme, conversation or event. You can use them to:

  • Highlight what your tweet is about - potentially reaching a wider or more interested readership than just those who already follow you.
  • Join in with a current conversation where all participants include an agreed #hashtag
  • Search for or 'follow' all tweets which have used a specific hashtag

Useful hashtags for academics when discussing issues or trending topics in academia include #academia#acwri#ecrchat and #phdchat. Some example tweets using #hashtags can be seen below:

Images and Videos

Think about the content of your tweet - and trying to catch people's eye on a platform which values brevity.

  • Tweets which include images are re-tweeted 35% more than text-only tweets.
  • Tweets which include video content are re-tweeted 28% more than text-only tweets.

[data source: Twitter (2014)]

But some things to remember:

  • Make sure that your content is relevant (or, if just intended as interesting/amusing to catch attention, is at least related to your message or research).
  • Think about your signal-noise ratio! Whilst it is better to engage with people as a 'person' rather than ONLY pushing your latest publication, do try and keep a balance if this is a primary route for you to talk about your research.
  • Remember to consider and check the copyright permissions for any image you re-use!

Timing your Twitter Activity

Do think about timing in how you share information and engage with others on Twitter.

  1. Don't worry about missing something.. if it was important, it will come around again.
  2. If tweeting about your own research:
    • Think about what might be the best time to reach your intended audience.
    • The early morning or evening, or between 11am and 1pm are often good times to share content.
    • But what about reaching audiences in different timezones?
    • You can use tools such as Followerwonk or Audiense (all offer both free and premium services) to analyse your followers and activity to identify core times for reaching your audience via Twitter.
  3. Don't be afraid to repeat key tweets at different times over the following days/weeks (although be reasonable and avoid spamming followers)
    • You could use #hashtags such as #TBThursday (throw back Thursday) to highlight messages previously shared, or drop your message into different conversations you becomes engaged with.

Your Twitter Profile

Your Twitter handle (your username on twitter - it is publically visible) and your short Bio are key tools to enable a potential follower to assess whether your content will be of interest to them.

Here are some quick tips and example handles/bios:

Your Twitter Handle
  • If possible, use a single handle across all social media platforms you wish to keep connected (e.g. if you blog, have an instagram or facebook account)
  • Use a relevant name if possible to aid people discovering your profile if they search by keyword
  • Avoid using numbers (some users may mistake your profile for a spam or bot account - which frequently use random alpha-numeric combinations for a handle)
  • Keep it short - and if possible, easy to remember!
Your Twitter Bio(graphy)
  • You are very limited in terms of space (160 characters) - use it well!
    • Treat it as the introduction to your "brand" - an elevator pitch to let people know what you are all about, and what they can expect from your twitter activity.
  • You don't need to use full sentences!
    • Use keywords, but avoid text speak.
    • Avoid block capitals which can be interpreted as "shouting" or aggressive.
    • Use hashtags and include handles of other related accounts.
    • Include a disclaimer if you are linked to an identifiable organisation (e.g. "views my own")
    • Highlight key facts or esteem factors about yourself if your own profile.
    • Be careful about overuse of emojis, which often have issues around accessibility (e.g. how they are treated by screen reading software)
  • You can include in the space provided a link to a web page: this could be your Durham Staff Profile, your ORCID, or any personal or other online profile you wish.

Example Twitter Bios for some Durham University academics

Managing your time and other tools

There are tools available to help you manage your Twitter interactions more efficiently. This can be helpful where:

  • You are responsible for multiple Twitter accounts (personal, research group, scholarly society, department, research project);
  • You want to post the same message to one or more different profiles or platforms simultaneously;
  • You wish to schedule some posts in advance;
  • You want a single place to view your own activity and interactions.

Services we use include:

  • Tweetdeck is a user dashboard owned by Twitter which allows you to see content from those you follow, as well as allowing you view in a single interface all mentions, replies and direct messages, as well as display any tweets mentioning particular terms, hashtags or posted by particular users.
  • Hootsuite offers both free and premium plans: the free plan allows you to manage up to 3 profiles, and schedule up to 30 tweets in advance (Correct as at September 2020).
  • IFTTT (or "if this, then that") is a platform hosting numerous 'apps' which you can link to your twitter, email, dropbox and other accounts to automate such activity. This has potential both for saving time but also for data collection for both research and impact- purpose/outreach tracking purposes. This could include:
    • automating replies when someone mentions you on twitter.
    • acknowledging and thanking new followers.
    • notify you when a new post mentioning a particular hashtag is tweeted.
    • creating a spreadsheet of all of your tweets (or all tweets related to a particular profile or hashtag).
    • automatically tweet when you add a blog post to a linked blog account.

Searching Twitter

You don't need a Twitter account to see what is happening in the 'twittersphere' - you can search twitter using their search interface here. This can be useful if you don't want an account with twitter, but want to see what people are saying on Twitter at a conference you are attending (or can't attend!) - and you know the #hashtag being used by the conference.

When searching twitter, you can also use the following tools to improve your search experience (or use their advanced search interface here or one of the APIs provided by twitter):

Search tools for Twitter
Search Operator Will find tweets...
care duty ... containing both the term "care" and the term "duty".
"duty of care" ... containing the exact phrase "duty of care".
care OR duty ... containing either the term "care" OR the term "duty", or both terms.
duty -care ... containing the term "duty" and not the term "care".
#phdchat ... containing the hashtag #phdchat
from:DROdurham ... sent by the user @DROdurham
to:DROdurham ... sent as a reply to the user @DROdurham
@DROdurham ... mentioning by the user @DROdurham
politics filter:safe ... containing the term "politics" , with tweets marked as potentially sensitive removed.
academia filter:media ... containing the term "academia" AND including an image or a video.
academia -filter:retweets ... containing the term "academia" AND excluding 'retweets'
students filter:links ... containing the term "students" AND includes a linking URL
brexit until:2016-06-23 ... containing the term "brexit" and sent before the date 2016-06-23
corona since:2020-01-01 ... containing the term "corona" and sent since the date 2020-01-01
bonespurs ? ... containing the term "bonespurs" AND asking a question

Remember, you can also use apps available via IFTTT to then automate searches and exporting tweets if this is of interest.

Social Media for Researchers: Resources in the Library

Annette Leßmöllmann, Marcelo Dascal and Thomas Gloning (2020) Science Communication

Annette Leßmöllmann, Marcelo Dascal and Thomas Gloning (2020) Science Communication Handbooks of Communication Science [HoCS], 17 ((De Gruyter Mouton, Boston/Berlin) 

Rowell, C. (2019) Social Media in Higher Education: Case Studies, Reflections and Analysis

Rowell, C. (2019) Social Media in Higher Education: Case Studies, Reflections and Analysis (Open Book Publishers, Cambridge)

Carrigan, M (2016) Social Media for Academics

Carrigan, M (2016) Social Media for Academics (Sage, London)

Neal, Diane Rasmussen (2012) Social Media For Academics

Neal, D. R. (ed) (2012) Social Media For Academics (Chandos, Oxford)

Poore, M (2016) Using social media in the classroom : a best practice guide

Poore, M (2016) Using social media in the classroom : a best practice guide (Sage, Los Angeles)

Ortega, J. L. (2016) Social Network Sites for Scientists: A Quantitative Survey

Ortega, J. L. (2016) Social Network Sites for Scientists: A Quantitative Survey (Chandos, Cambridge)

Marketing and Communications: Using Social Media Toolkit

Marketing and Communications: Using Social Media Toolkit

The Marketing and Communications Office have developed a toolkit to encourage and empower staff to participate in profile raising activities.

The Toolkit highlights a few of the many platforms available, and identifies considerations when deciding which platform would be most appropriate. It also provides tips on getting the most from Twitter, Facebook and starting to blog about your research.

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