It is now just over two years since I began tweeting and just under two years since I started blogging. My first end of year report saw me entering my second year as a fully converted Tweeter and Blogger and very happy indeed with my foray into the world of social media. I had made new research contacts, got invitations to give talks to local conservation groups, got BBC Wildlife to acknowledge their vertebrate bias,
been invited to give a talk on the subject at the Royal Entomological Society annual meeting and even got a publication in the journal Animal Conservation! So I definitely finished 2013 on a high and began the New Year with an almost evangelical desire to convince all my colleagues to join in the fun.
So now here I am, two years in. Is it still working for me? Most definitely. I have amassed over 2300 followers on Twitter and 124 people are signed up to receive updates to my blog. I have, including this article, written 65 blog posts. Views on my blog have increased from a daily average of 39 to 67 and at the time of writing it has received over 22000 views compared with just over 14000 last year. I figure that this is considerably more exposure than I get from my published scientific papers. That said, I have as a direct result of my blogging activities had two more papers published (Leather, 2014, 2015) and been asked to submit a more formal version of my end of year report to Antenna (the house journal of the Royal Entomological Society) which will give me a chance to sway a somewhat larger entomological audience than I had at the annual meeting last September (2013)! My good-natured jibes (via Twitter) at the Journal of Animal Ecology accusing them of a vertebrate bias, resulted in me being asked to edit one of their Virtual Issues which in turn, resulted in a very interesting post on their blog by their Editor-in-Chief Ken Wilson.
As a journal editor, I have been able to find referees for papers and also new editorial board members. I have also found Twitter an invaluable way of advertising the MSc course in Entomology that I run here at Harper Adams University, of advertising PhD and staff positions and of generally reaching and interacting with a huge number of like-minded people around the world. It is of course not all one way traffic, I get a number of requests for help and information that I am, if able, happy to respond positively to.
My biggest buzz this year was to receive a complimentary copy of a book by Peter Smith (Smith, 2014), in which one of my blog posts,
Are PhD Examiners really ogres? was quoted several times. I have to confess that this gave me pretty much the same feeling that I got when I saw my first ever paper (Leather, 1980) in print 😉
So to answer the question I posed at the start of this post. Yes, I am still as firmly, if not more so, convinced as I was a year ago, that social media is an essential part of a rounded academic life. Of course if you are reading this I am probably preaching to the converted 😉
Leather, S.R. (1980) Egg survival in the bird cherry-oat aphid, Rhopalosiphum padi. Entomologia experimentalis et applicata, 27, 96-97.
Leather, S.R. (2013) Institutional vertebratism hampers insect conservation generally; not just saproxylic beetle conservation. Animal Conservation, 16, 379-380.
Leather, S.R. (2014) How Stephen Jay Gould wrote Macbeth – not giving credit where its due: lazy referencing and ignoring precedence. Ideas in Ecology & Evolution, 7, 30-40.
Leather, S.R. (2015) An entomological classic: the Pooter or insect aspirator. British Journal of Entomology and Natural History, 28, in press
Smith, P. (2014) The PhD Viva: How to Prepare for your Oral Examination. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke