It's nice to be on the list of The top 50 science stars of Twitter according to AAAS/Science. However, the list is based on somewhat arbitrary criteria and is meant to provoke discussion rather than to be taken seriously. What is valuable, however, are some of the quotes by scientists interviewed for the story. A selection of the quotes is posted below.
The skeptic view on Twitter
Fact of life: Most high-performing scientists have not embraced Twitter. Why? "Highest ranking chemist considers Twitter a waste of time that he’d much prefer spending on reading, writing papers".
Twitter proponents win this argument
However, this is changing. Researcher: "Twitter may be the most valuable time I spend in terms of learning things". "Twitter is a virtual classroom connecting people interested in psychology of happiness. It’s another teaching tool". “In a minute, I can skim through a hundred Twitter posts. It’s pretty amazing for getting a feel of what’s going on". Tweeting ongoing research at research lab has attracted graduate students as well as two grants. Active social media presence might aid applications for research funding, as it shows a commitment to public outreach.
Know the risks
There are pitfall to Twitter user, of course. Spontaneity of Twitter can backfire, for example, live-tweeted brusque criticism at academic conferences can come back to bite you.
Twitter is ill-suited for nuanced, in-depth scientific discussions. The tweets are only 140-characters after all, and it is difficult to follow a conversation because every single tweet is a separate web page. One approach is to tweet links that appeal to a general audience, rather than complex scientific papers.
How to use Twitter in science
Twitter can be a crowdsourcing platform for new ideas and research.
Twitter can surface and bring to you the latest, most noteworthy research in medical science. Your own tweets about papers and presentations you find interesting can form an archive.
Twitter functions as “another dimension of peer review”.
Here is an approach I suggested a few years ago:
Cycle of Patient Education (click here to enlarge the image):
Cycle of Online Information and Physician Education (click here to enlarge the image):
The top 50 science stars of Twitter | Science/AAAS | News http://buff.ly/1uiCBqK
The Kardashian index: a measure of discrepant Tiwtter profile and publication record for scientists http://bit.ly/1xXm8uv
Disclaimer and clarification: I am listed at 44 among The top 50 science stars of Twitter. Also, in 08/2014, I made a transition from University of Chicago to Cleveland Clinic.