Making science heard via modern technology


IN this age of mass media digitalisation, we see ourselves being slaves to our devices. Boon or bane: You decide! It is an inevitable change that we need to embrace as we see our world being more replaced by machines. As far as we see this true, we need to step up to societal changes. However, how do we steer technology to work to our advantage? Anne Roe, an American clinical psychologist (1904 – May 29, 1991) had said: “Nothing in science has any value to society if it is not communicated”. This clever quote is stated in her book, “The Making of a Scientist” in 1953.

By definition, the mass media is represented as an amalgamation of the press, television, radio and internet. Social media on the other hand, refers to online electronic communication channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration. Some prominent examples of social media include, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and several others. These social media platforms have created new opportunities for open science including communicating through interactive ways in sharing research data. There is an insatiable desire for knowledge in today’s world, as more people become more enthusiastic about science. The art of science communication is to pitch something complicated in a way that is engaging while still holding onto its meaning.

Among the many possible avenues to share research, Twitter stands out as a quick and simple solution. Twitter-the most favourite social media for the scientific community; is a concise yet clear way to communicate either with scientific peers or the general public.

Scientists can share their findings, discuss and challenge emerging research and crowdsource latest ideas. Alongside forging links between scientists, interactions on Twitter can improve communication between scientists and the public. Start by “following” people that share your interest.

Identify hashtags that are relevant to your field and monitor these daily for things you might retweet and tweets you might reply to. Using appropriate hashtags, helps gauge the right crowd. For instance, a person who is interested in “Genetics”, could just search for #genetics to find latest tweets about it.

You would be most likely to be seen by the people discussing that topic and looking at messages related to that subject. Choose simple keywords that relate to your research, at the same time relevant to all. Bear in mind that your Twitter audience are most likely to be non-science experts, so it is always best to avoid jargons.

Often enough, researchers tend to ignore the outside world at their peril. Reaching out of your lab spaces to engage with the wide world helps show people that science is essential and that researchers are working hard to address critical issues. By making your research more visible through social media, it helps promote citations, increase reputation and expand your career. The larger the audience size who reads your work, the more recognised your work becomes. One should always aim to “sell” the manuscript, if not it remains on web and on paper.

Be proud of your achievements! Sometimes you must put yourself out there to be heard. Many a times we feel ourselves being not bold enough to put our work out there. Thoughts like, “what will others think/say” often cloud our judgements. All it takes is the first step to do it and the habit will continue. If you are presenting in a conference, tweeting about your poster or lecture may increase your impact which in turn attracts the attention of potential collaborators.

Some journals actively share manuscript on social media platforms, and if your manuscript is accepted by this journal they will help in promoting your article. If it is not the case, you may also opt to share your work with other journals that publish similar material. While such a process has been important in ensuring scientific robustness, subscription-based publishing and peer-reviewed processes can take up time and hamper the dissemination of research to a wider audience.

All social media platforms are created to suit various purposes; all with their own pros and cons. Use it to disseminate your science to a broader audience beyond the experts in your field. To have a visible online presence, find a platform that suits your purpose best, rather than trying to be on all of them. Build a style that suits you best and have fun with it!

MAGARET SIVAPRAGASAM acquired her BSc (Hons) Biotechnology from the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology, Malaysia (AIMST University) in 2008. She was awarded the Tiger Woods Foundation Award for excellence in writing. Upon completing her PhD, she joined the Centre of Research in Ionic Liquids (CORIL) under the wing of Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS. She is a recent award scholar recipient of the prestigious Science Finder Future Leader (2017) by the American Chemistry Society (ACS), USA. Her passion includes science communication where she has published several articles in ACS Axial, MDPI and many others. Her other interests include travelling, food and animals.