Twitter Guidance

Why use Twitter?

To enhance researcher’s reputations and build networks

To raise the profile of PSSRU and promote our “brand”

To increase the impact of our research

To identify and acquire future collaborators

To request help – complete surveys, recruit

Tweeting is of importance to the unit and staff should respond and assist the Twitter team. Tweeting is another form of “public writing” which researchers should be encouraged to produce for their own professional development – creating great conversations.

What can I tweet about?

Suggestions for news items are: new publications, publications newly available (eg. now open access) new grants, project milestones, project activity, conference attendance, conference paper, invitations to attend/speak, press coverage, mentions, citations, charity fund raising event, unit social events, awareness weeks

Common sense and professionalism

Everyone should use courtesy, discretion and common sense when tweeting.

There is lots of sensible advice in University of Kent social media guidelines

What can’t I tweet about?

Research findings which are not yet in the public domain. Findings from Department of Health funded research should have been submitted to the Department of Health 28 days before they are made publicly available.

Who can tweet?

Personal Twitter accounts for work are highly encouraged and full support will be given to anyone that needs assistance in initially joining the Twitter world. Creating an individual profile in your field of expertise will continue to help career development as social media becomes increasingly important.

A PSSRU Twitter account exists. Our Twitter name is @pssru_kent. You can see our tweets on the PSSRU website home page and find the link on bottom right of that page. You do not need to have set up a Twitter account to view this.

Amanda, Roz, Ed, Grace and Andrew have access to PSSRU’s main twitter account. These people can tweet/retweet on behalf of the unit.

Anything you would like to tweet from the main account can be given to them (Twitter team).

A separate Twitter account can be used for different projects if you would like – it would be good if this was maintained by someone who knows and enjoys using Twitter.

Finding content

The Twitter team will try to find content to tweet from the unit’s Twitter account. They will use the list above to encourage ideas from colleagues. This will also serve as an informal training exercise if anyone would like more guidance eg. draft messages of 140 characters together, explain a little more about nature of Twitter, de-mystify.

The shared unit calendar acts as an information trigger for the Twitter team. Staff should include a little more information about their activities so we can shout about the interesting things we are doing.

If in doubt…

Check with lead author when tweeting about publications.

The Principal Investigator for each project should guide staff if they feel unsure about a tweet and should be supportive. PI’s can speak to the twitter team if they would like any more guidance.

If you do want to set up a personal Twitter account or one for a PSSRU programme …..

Here is a good intro Getting started with Twitter

Make sure the Twitter team know about your new account. Include our address @pssru_kent in Tweets you write. This way we are alerted to them and can re-tweet if appropriate – increasing the reach of your tweet.

Think of an appropriate # for your programme eg. #pssruascot.

If you attend a conference find out the # for the conference and use it in your tweets.

And some more guidance

LSE’s Using Twitter in university research, teaching and impact activities

A gentle introduction to Twitter for the apprehensive academic

UK Cochrane Centre useful social media resources

Try and use photos and images – your tweet is much more likely to get noticed.

Use photos you have taken yourself –that way you don’t need to worry about copyright. But check you have permission of the people in the photo.


Resources For Writing Academic Blogs

Many within our unit have asked about how to write academic blogs and how do they differ from writing journal articles or findings documents. Rather than reinventing the wheel, the answers to these questions are already out there and the remainder of this post points you in the direction of this advice…

writing photo typing photo

“Be brief, be vivid and be connected”

Being brief, vivid and connected are the three essential rules from Corey Tomsons’ piece on how to write an academic blog.

  • Being brief means keeping the posts short, as well as the paragraphs and sentences too.
  • Being vivid means definitely avoiding jargon – all teams and departments have it – for starters we work in PSSRU within SSPSSR – that’s a lot of letters – a lot of Ss, Ps and Rs – and potentially a lot of nonsense to our readers! (PSSRU = Personal Social Services Research Unit, SSPSSR = School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research)
  • Being connected means linking and linking often. Blogs are a great opportunity for connecting with other pieces of your work, or of colleagues, as well as relating your research to a wider social and political context.


A sociologist’s perspective…

A very interesting post from Nate Palmer gives a sociologist’s perspective on writing online. My favourite pieces of advice from his post include:

  • “K.I.S.S. – Keep it Simple Scholar!”
  • “Talk to your reader. Write as if your reader is in the room with you.”
  • “Don’t Let Perfection Be The Enemy of The Good.” – in other words your grammar doesn’t have to be perfect – focus on clearly communicating your ideas.


George Julian Gems

As a team, we recently benefitted from the experience and advice of George Julian on effective blog writing. Some time ago she put together her top ten tips for new bloggers which is well worth a read. Her tips include “blogging should be a pleasure and not a chore”, “try not to overthink it” and “there are no rules”.


Social media guide for researchers

This guide is a great starting point to show you how you can use social media within your research. It takes a frank look at both the pros and cons of using it. They conclude that “researchers who are active users of social media feel they offer them benefits in their professional life. By speeding up communication and enabling new forms of collaboration, social media also have the potential to spark exciting new research, and to increase productivity.” Is this, or will this be, your experience too?


Blogging benefits from LSE

Colleagues at LSE have provided a really helpful set of presentation slides on how to embark on academic blogging. They demonstrate just how effective, low-cost and interactive a blog can be, as well as being a great opportunity for widening your networks and building contacts. Their presentation demonstrates graphically the potential of effective blogging – a huge spike in viewings of their work as their blog post was released. They give you some useful ideas about what you can blog about ranging from updates on research progress, comments on current events and reports from conferences, as well as collaborations with other bloggers or reposting their work.


Making data meaningful

We use a lot of statistics in PSSRU, but can we use this data more effectively to convey our messages more clearly, concisely and accurately to our audience? The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe sets out “A guide to presenting statistics”, providing invaluable advice. They make it clear that first and foremost, you need to find a story. “For data to be meaningful to a general audience, it is important to find meaning in the numbers.” The guide goes on to stress the importance of writing in a jounalistic style – using the “inverted pyramid” – presenting the most important facts first. This guide is well worth a read and is set out very clearly, following it’s own advice of “Language: keep it clear, concise and simple”.



Use of Images

We all love pictures, right? I know I do. I know it’s why I still prefer to read childrens books and flick through to see how many pictures there are in the story!


Relevant images can convey powerful messages and break up the density of text. This is something that George Julian has also stressed within her top ten tips for new bloggers described above, where she comments that “I always try to include at least one image or visual in each of my posts.”

One health warning – copyright! Unfortunately we cannot just search Google images and include any image we like within a blog. However, there are free-to-use images out there and one of the sites with the best selection I’ve come across is with over 400,000 photos to choose from. Even with these sites it pays to check out the individual licensing agreement for the use of any image. All of the images in this post come from


Further suggestions for obtaining free-to-use images are helpfully listed within the 12 best places to get free images for your site page.

Another way around the copyright issue is to take your own photos and use them – provided you have the permission of any people you include within the photo.


Social media guidelines

And just one final thought before launching further into blogging…the University has drawn together some social media guidelines for staff. These include dos and don’t across all social media channels and are well worth a read. The purpose of these guidelines are summarised in the quote that “while acknowledging the right of staff to freedom of expression, the University has an obligation to protect the reputation of both individual members of staff and the institution as a whole.”


So these are just a few suggestions of what has helped us and may help you as you explore the role of social media within your research. Please feel free to add suggestions of other resources you have come across. Thank you for reading!