On the 12th of February, as part of the #Piirusvoices campaign, piirus.ac.uk hosted a Twitter chat centering around the theme of loving your research.
The event, jointly chaired by piirus.ac.uk correspondents Arun Verma and myself was essentially run as a large group discussion that academics were free to drop into and out of as they pleased.
There were three main ideas discussed during the talk:
- What do you love most about your current research?
- What research collaborations have you most enjoyed?
- Why do you love your research?
Collectively, these provoked a spirited academic dialogue. Various researchers offered wisdom, advice and shared their hard-earned experience with those still finding their feet.
Although this wasn’t my maiden voyage aboard the Twitter juggernaut, it was the first time I had been involved in a Twitter chat. Being ostensibly at the helm made it a bit more daunting, but the event proceeded with remarkable ease.
The basic idea behind a Twitter chat is that a group of people with similar interests get together at a designated time to discuss a pre-determined topic. You use a hashtag (#) to have your tweets seen by people following the discussion.
Think of it as the online version of going to a bar to talk about a certain topic with your friends. There’s no dress code, and a keyboard instead of drinks . So to be ‘heard’ you just use the relevant hashtag, in this case it was #piirusvoices. We also used #loveyourresearch for our theme when character limits permitted.
As with many things, preparation helps here. Before I did the chat I familiarised myself with the basics of a Twitter chat. One tool which I found really useful was tweetchat. All you do is:
- Go to tweetchat (this is an entirely free service)
- Type in the hashtag you want to follow (#piirusvoices)
- Sign in with your Twitter details
And then you will see a stream where all the tweets tagged with #piirusvoices will be displayed. It’s kind of like isolating a few people you want to talk to, about a topic you want to talk about. Otherwise, when you tweet you are kind of shouting across a crowded room where the messages you want to hear get lost in all of the other conversations that are going on. To contribute to the conversation, just type in the box.
Twitter chats are a great place to meet and learn from like-minded people. I thoroughly recommend participating in them!
Footnote 1: Some of you may have read the ‘no drinks’ part and be thinking that this sounds absolutely horrible. You can buy and pour your own drinks, and you can attend a Twitter chat in your underwear (not socially acceptable in a bar).
Image copyright: By OpenClipartVectors [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Pixabay.