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5-Day Impact Challenge

A guide on how to increase your scholarly impact in just 5 days!

Banner reading 5-Day Impact Challenge Day 4: Find your community online

Day 4: Find your community online

Academic social media usage has enabled a new mode of public scholarship. Along with increased engagement, social media use as an academic can carry risks, as well. Today's challenge will give you some information about the mainstream social media platforms Twitter and Facebook. Read the descriptions of each network below and choose the one you wish to focus on today.

Not interested in social media, or already comfortable with it? You can also check out our guide to following colleagues on sites such as Google Scholar, PubMed, and SlideShare so you are always up-to-date on the newest publications of your own curated community of scholars.

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Twitter is a microblogging site with 330 million monthly active users, and more than 1 in 40 researchers are reportedly active on the site.

Scientists who use Twitter tend to be effusive in their praise: Twitter helps them stay on top of news in their field, find new publications, get speaking and publishing opportunities, communicate their research directly to the public, and– perhaps most importantly–find a sense of community. In fact, among researchers who use social media in a professional context, 83% declared Twitter to be the most useful tool they use.

If you choose to focus on Twitter today, we’ll explore Twitter’s usefulness for you. We’ll get you onto the site, engaging others, finding the best sources of information in your field, and measuring the diffusion of your research among other researchers and the public.

Create your account by going to and following the instructions we've prepared. If you're already a regular Twitter user, you might want to check out Steps 6 & 7 to learn more about conference tweeting and Twitter metrics.

These step-by-step instructions will get you started in no time:


Twitter is, like many of the other platforms we’ve covered so far, a for-profit company. Though it’s technically free to use, you pay for your account by allowing Twitter show ads in your timeline and access and sell your personal data to other companies.

Twitter has recently implemented an algorithmic timeline which, rather than displaying Tweets in chronological order with no weight given to more popular Tweets, makes some decisions about what content rises to the top of a given user's feed. This model is likely to privilege certain content and de-prioritize other content; since the algorithm is proprietary, these decisions will not be transparent.

What could it mean for you? Well, if Twitter’s future algorithms inadvertently decide that your tweets about H1N1 studies or field research or science funding aren’t compelling to your users, it could remove them from others’ homepages, killing potential conversations and connections.


If you haven't already, be sure to follow us on Twitter --> @GumbergLibrary. Share your scholarship using the hashtag #5DayImpactChallenge and we'll retweet you!


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Facebook is the social network that needs no introduction: it reports over 3 billion active monthly users as of 2021, and chances are mostly everyone that you know is on it. Yet over 50% of scientists report that they don’t use it professionally.

On the surface, Facebook doesn’t seem good for academia because it doesn’t make sense to promote our work to our friends and family, or to blur the boundaries between our personal and professional lives.

But Facebook networks are as good as you make them. Centers and institutes can set up pages specifically devoted to their work in order to attract attention. On personal pages, Facebook allows us to make more personal connections to colleagues than academic social networking sites do. And for those who research topics that are the subject of public discussion–for example, stem cell research, climate change, or Ebola–Facebook can be a good way to share your research with audiences outside the Ivory Tower.

Ready to learn more about the pros and cons of Facebook? Jump in here:


Now that you know the pros and cons and ins and outs of using Facebook professionally, take a break to do some leisurely Facebook browsing. Tomorrow we'll talk about how to promote your expertise at Duquesne.


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