Twitter is a micro-blogging social media platform for short messages that can have a long-term impact on how scientists create and publish ideas. We investigate the usefulness of Twitter in the development and distribution of scientific knowledge.
At the start of the 'life cycle' of a scientific publication, Twitter provides a large virtual department of colleagues that can help to rapidly generate, share and refine new ideas. As ideas become manuscripts, Twitter can be used as an informal arena for the pre-review of works in progress. Finally, tweeting published findings can communicate research to a broad audience of other researchers, decision makers, journalists and the general public that can amplify the scientific and social impact of publications.
However, there are limitations, largely surrounding issues of intellectual property and ownership, inclusiveness and misrepresentations of science ‘sound bites’. Nevertheless, we believe Twitter is a useful social media tool that can provide a valuable contribution to scientific publishing in the 21st century.