Social Media in Science

LAKSHMI on September 11, 2016

The rapid expansion of Internet and social media has influenced almost all spheres of modern life. Social media, in particular, has merged information with public opinion, and brought closer to reality, the concept of global unity. While there is much discussion on the application and influence of social media tools in primary and high school education, there is relatively less known about the use of social media in higher scientific research domains. It is obvious that social media tools offer potential to serve as a powerful public voice for science, but is this potential being harnessed fully yet?
 
 
In the past scientists were pretty skeptical about embracing online activities; as social media was considered a “waste of time” and a distraction from research and teaching duties. But of late social media usage has made definite inroads into the scientific community at large; redefining ways of obtaining and sharing knowledge and information.
  • Focused social media sites such as google scholar, ResearchGate and LinkedIn are largely used by scientists and engineers to connect with their peers for discussions, validation and communication. 
  • Blogs are becoming ideal media for extended scientific conversations and fast-paced discussions of cutting edge topics. Blog entries are now slowly being considered for pre-print and post-print discussions of peer-reviewed manuscripts.
  • There are others who are avid supporters of mainstream social media. Stephen Hawking and Rishard Dawkins have a great scientific/adedemic presence on Twitter and Facebook (both personal and professional)respectively.
  • There has been, in recent years, a need for the scientific community to engage in science outreach via social media (SOSM) as part of a broader agenda for researchers to engage the public.
Social media can, undoubtedly, be nucleating spots of misinformation and pseudoscience with potential to distort public understanding of scientific ideas. However, its ease of communication to both peers and public is critical to the distribution of scientific information and spread of scientific temper among people. It may not be long before social media becomes the only powerful means of communication, and a scientist may not be doing science much of a favor by not being in it. Such a movement requires greater insurgence by the scientific community into social media today, and more importantly, the development of reliable metrics that can separate the chaff from grain in social media science.

This is an excerpt from our article on HuffingtonPost. For an in-depth look, read the full version here. Keep in touch with the latest on parenting, technology and education. Subscribe to the Mobicip newsletter.