Science Networking Project: The Handout

I would like to thank all of the individuals on Twitter and those who have commented on the blog for help in thinking about how best to use Twitter in the classroom.  Below is the handout I will be giving the students the first day of class.  Feel free to make suggestions for improvement, or to modify and use it for your own purposes if you like it.

Science Networking Project

Keeping abreast of the latest scientific news and research as one enters his or her career can be a greater challenge than one might think; therefore, developing skills to stay connected to the flow of scientific information is essential for one’s growth as a scientist. Until recently, keeping up with information in one’s field consisted of making an attempt to, at the very least, browse the titles and abstracts of the major journals related to that particular discipline. Amidst the many other responsibilities of a graduate student or developing scientist in another career track, staying current with research news is a focus that often gets ignored. However, with easier and more regular access to information through the Internet and direct connectivity to those with similar interests, this task is made much easier.

The social networking tool, Twitter, is used by many scientists and science writers and is a powerful technology for following breaking scientific news stories. Following specifically selected individuals connects one to a vast network of information. Many of these individuals specifically dedicate their time to looking for the most important scientific breakthroughs and tweeting about them. Furthermore, one can easily begin to see what new stories are of great importance, as multiple individuals will tweet about the same story or retweet what others have posted. And at times, great content is tweeted that escapes the attention of main players or major journal editors. So, while at the basic level twitter can function as one’s personalized news feed (and in the case of this course, tailored to scientific interests), this technology can offer much more.

Through Twitter one can connect to individuals and organizations that previously may have been inaccessible. Through these connections you can begin to develop your Personal Learning Network (PLN), defined on one blog as, “the entire collection of people with whom you engage and exchange information, usually online.”[1] Your PLN will be specific to your own interests and connect you to individuals that will become virtual colleagues for sharing ideas. For example, as I was entreating ways to use Twitter in the classroom, I connected with other faculty who had also used Twitter in their classroom and we were able to engage and discuss this topic. Beyond using Twitter as a way for you to keep informed with emerging scientific information, my greater goal for this activity is to assist you in forming a lasting professional network, the foundation of which will be your fellow classmates and myself.

Some of you may already use Twitter – perhaps for personal purposes, but you may have already begun to adapt this to your professional practice. For the purposes of this class, your Twitter accounts should become a professional representation of your online persona. If you have a Twitter account that you use for personal connections with friends (ie. Foursquare check-ins, etc.), I strongly recommend that you begin an alternate, professional account for use in this course and as you connect with other professionals. With that said, you may go to and start your account. You may want to download the program “Tweetdeck,” which will allow you to more easily track tweets associated with the class. When you are write tweets for this class, be sure to include the hashtag #AB471, which will allow us to isolate all tweets associated with this course. To start connecting to sources related to this course, follow the individuals/organizations listed below.

Bloggers/Science Writers

Science Journals

Scientific Societies/Foundations

Science and Art

Women in Science




Suggestions for Tweeting:

  1. Find a news article, blog post, or other source. Write a short caption and provide a link to this source. (Tip: To shorten the original link you can use a site such as to create a short link. Doing this will reduce the number of characters your link consumes.)
  2. Tweet a question. In addition to sending me an email or posting on the Moodle site, feel free to Tweet your question. I will respond as quickly as possible; alternatively, a classmate or someone in your extended PLN will take the initiative.
  3. Respond to a Tweet posted by a classmate. Let them know you found interesting something they shared. Initiate a conversation about it.
  4. Find something in class particularly fascinating? Compose a short Tweet about it.

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