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Just a few months ago, I was as sceptical to Twitter as I experience that many of my friends and fellow public health colleagues are. But as might have become apparent from this blog, my opinion on Twitter has changed and I now gladly follow live-tweeted surgery, I have been tweeting at conferences and used posts on this blog to recommend other blogs providing tips for researchers on ways they can use Twitter.

I guess  one could argue that Twitter is a little bit overrepresented on this blog and it is even my impression that many of my readers already know much more about the topic than I do. Despite these two facts I just had to share this Guide to using Twitter in university research, teaching and impact activities which was just published by LSE – London School of Economics and Political Science.

The guide sets out to give an answer to this question, which I have met from soooo many of my friends:

“How can Twitter, which limits users to 140 characters per tweet, have any relevance to universities and academia, where journal articles are 3,000 to 8,000 words long, and where books contain 80,000 words? Can anything of academic value ever be said in just 140 characters?”

I think, this guide gives a really nice attempt to answer the question. It is with its 11 pages really very approachable. With a short and very straight forward introduction to what Twitter is, it also provides a quick step-by-step guide on how to set up an account and then it goes into detail on how Twitter + universities can be a useful cocktail, eg. by:

  • Using Twitter to maximise the impact of your research project
  • Staying connected within University departments
  • Making the most of Twitter alongside your own blog
  • Using Twitter for teaching purposes

In addition, there are great tips on ways/styles for using those 140 characters that a tweet allows for. There is a terminology list and a list of recommended tweeters from the world of academics developed by followers of LSE Impact Blog.

The tone of the guide is nice and relaxed but still with a University jargon feel to it. The ‘relaxness’ shows for example in its caution advice on using Twitter:

“It is best not to tweet if you’re feeling ratty late at night and never when drunk either! If you do happen to tweet anything you regret, you can find the delete button if you run your mouse over the offending tweet.”

Perhaps this can be useful for me in trying to explain to friends and colleagues why the sceptical view on Twitter perhaps should be reconsidered a bit.