The time to go social has never been so good

Written by Rosalind Hill

Social media has become an essential tool for modern day communication, as well as growing tool to assess the value and impact of research

In the digital age, it’s almost impossible to escape the pull of social media. It has become an essential tool for modern day communications — whether it’s staying in touch with colleagues on LinkedIn, sharing content on Twitter and Facebook, or the sharing of opinions through blogging platforms, the majority of people will be members of at least one social network.

In publishing too, it has become an essential tool for sharing research and communicating on a level with peers, where an email or telephone call might not be possible. Communities have found a new meeting place through which to network and share knowledge.

At conferences, we are able to share immediate responses to talks in 140 characters, and later develop a more robust response in the form of a blog, which is then also shared on social media.

And while Impact Factors remain the gold standard for much published research, the power of the Altmetric is ever-increasing, and with it generating its own gravitas when it comes to the written word.

Altmetrics gathers data of shares of research and peer-reviewed articles throughout social media, as well as what people are saying about that research. Through social media and blogging platforms, we are able to immediately discuss whether we agree or disagree with research, as well as discuss what it means for the community as a whole.

Readers can now immediately respond to a paper or research, where once letters to the editor may have been the only opportunity. We are more able to think how research might affect us.

Networking sites therefore, not only provide that opportunity for sharing and engaging followers with relevant content, but also provide blogging platforms to disseminate your thoughts more in-depth, while inviting comments from like-minded people; those whose interests lie in a set subject area, such as regenerative medicine.

Despite the power of social media to connect people with people, and people with information, many can find it daunting to set out on the journey of content sharing and generation without the safety net of a Medline-listed title to back them up. But with the push for more Open Access content in the public domain, the time to go social has never been so good.