Of Schemes and Memes Blog

Share your experiences to create some SpotOn social media tips for scientists!

It ain’t a party if you can’t join us

Towards the end of April, SpotOn NYC, the monthly discussion series co-hosted by Nature Publishing Group, Rockefeller University and Ars Technica, will celebrate its 2nd birthday. Over the past two years, we’ve hosted lots of lively debates about science policy, outreach and tools and how the internet is influencing them.  And, just as importantly, we’ve all made many friends and collaborators along the way.

For recent SoNYC events, we’ve run a series of blog posts on the same topics to extend the conversations online and create a record of how these areas continue to evolve. For this year’s birthday celebrations, we’d like to do something different, and create a resource with — and for — the whole community.

Revisiting #reachingoutsci

One question our community keeps coming back to is whether scientists should be engaging directly in public outreach activities. The #reachingoutsci series that we hosted raised many related questions. Do scientists have time to do outreach? Should they make time? Should lab and departmental heads be more supportive? Can we create grants for outreach or recognise it as part of a researcher’s day job? How do we train scientists to do outreach successfully? And how do we determine what constitutes success anyway?

We’ve heard of struggles people have faced due to lack of support and scepticism about the importance of engagement with the wider public. We’ve also heard how useful it would be to have demonstrations of the value in spending time sharing the process and products of science more widely.

Most of us are already enthused about the use of social media for outreach – we’ve seen the expansion of our own personal networks as a result of being online, and we enjoy being part of a dynamic, collaborative, global family. How can we make a compelling case for those benefits?

We propose creating a series of social media outreach case studies that discuss how social media can help scientists, either on a personal or institutional level.  And we need your help!

Tell me more…

Want to talk to your boss about why it’s worth spending time on Twitter? Is your department thinking of setting up a group blog but is scared of the risks? We’d like to help you address these questions with evidence, discussing stories of how others have reached their goals by using social media. Case studies by successful scientists and institutions will allow you to point to specific examples and the people who created them, and to see how they overcame problems along the way.

So how can we do this? We’d like to follow the model of the Transitions series on changing into (and out of) different science jobs that we hosted. We’ll ask you a series of questions on your social media outreach efforts — you fill them in, and, if you’d like, work with us to create a blog post you’re happy with. We’ll share all of these experiences on the SpotOn site.

As all authors now have the option of licensing their content under a CC-BY licence, the end result will be shareable community resource.

We’ll try to work with everyone who wants to take part in this series to curate as many different examples as possible, whether they’re from personal, institutional or corporate perspectives. So, please, get in touch (email: spoton@nature.com) and spread the word to your contacts!

And in person…

Finally, we’ll be continuing this theme in person at our celebration of SpotOn NYC’s 2nd birthday. We invite any NYC-based scientists and communicators to come and share their own social media outreach stories which we’ll livestream and archive online to add to the collection of case studies. For more details, and to sign up, see the event page.



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