Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Do scientists use social media?

Yesterday, the Postdoctoral Association at UAB hosted a seminar entitled, "Social Media for Scientists: How Facebook and LinkedIn can bolster your career". The talk, presented by Wade Kwon and David Sher - both experts in this area, was informative and convincingly made the point that social media is here to stay. We're at an advantage if we make use of these tools now.

What surprised me was the small percentage of those in attendance that actually use social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Most of the audience have never used these networks and, if so, rarely update their accounts. It made me wonder why scientists might shy away from these simplistic forms of communication.

The stereotypical phenotype of a scientist is an anti-social individual wearing a white coat who prefers to work isolated in a laboratory, mixing flasks of bubbling solutions that are oh-so-beautifully colored. But does this image really hold up today?


  1. I frequently chat about experiments on facebook...it's actually more reliable than e-mail most of the time.

  2. Thanks for letting me come out to UAB to talk about Facebook.

    It may simply be that they aren't aware other scientists are out there using these social networks, either for fun or work.

    When I demonstrated the search feature, I wasn't sure the suggested "health disparities" would yield many results. And yet, plenty of people on FB were talking about it.

    The ones who use it, and use it correctly, will likely find grants and jobs more quickly. That seems like a good incentive, right?

  3. I think it's probably an age thing - I know few people below 25 who aren't on Facebook and very few above 30 who are (and they never update it). I think the current generation of PhD students is the first one which "grew up" with Facebook (i.e. had it through college).