Engagement, LEAP, social media, Twitter

Project Twitter: Successes and Challenges

Author- Dave Riley, Research Assistant

 

After two months putting together a plan of action designed to smash the barriers between academic staff and dissemination of their research on Twitter, it’s time to pause and reflect upon the progress of Project Twitter. This post looks at the project’s successes in promoting the work of academics within Cardiff Law School and the challenges faced in fostering enthusiasm toward research dissemination on Twitter.

Successes

In terms of the content produced on the Law Lab’s account by participating staff members, initial analytics suggest that the method of presenting bite-size chunks of work on a comment-card template works. Katie Richards and Russell Sandberg have both had their content reach a wider audience, and in one notable case have stimulated discussion and built new connections.  Katie’s first collection of tweets on the forfeiture rule showcased her research before an average of approximately 1,500 unique users on both the Law Lab account and her own personal account. Katie successfully set the parameters of the forfeiture rule before coming to her conclusion.

Russell Sandberg has also enjoyed success using the method. His tweet praising the literature on women’s legal history and identifying its methodology and ambition as the way forward was extremely popular. Russell gained 14 retweets and reached almost 2,500 people. His tweet led to further enquiries about his work and created a new professional connection.

Challenges: The “Time Barrier”

So far Project Twitter has encouraged three members of staff to share their outstanding research on Twitter, but there is scope for many more to participate. However, the “time barrier” continues to be a huge factor in between academics and a wider audience on social media. In a profession that requires the production of publishable research, teaching, and various administrative responsibilities- there is little time for an optional activity that carries no research credit. If academics are to engage on social media, it needs to be an enjoyable experience that doesn’t take up too much time- making social media fit this remit remains a challenge.

The Future: A Gradual Approach?

The timing and nature of Project Twitter may have been an issue for some. July is a time for academics to either knuckle down with research or take some well-deserved time off! Project Twitter and the effective dissemination of research may work better as a gradual side project for a member of staff that could gently encourage their colleagues to contribute content whenever they had free time. This way a twitter account could help build collegiality within a department as well as showcase participants’ research.

A future strategy could also involve targeting those that already enjoy tweeting and have found the benefits of promoting their work,and engaging with the wider public worth the time investment. Russell and Katie’s successes both came off the back of regular twitter-usage prior to their involvement in Project Twitter and the tweeting of eye-catching and easily digestible content has boosted engagement with their work. The ability of actively tweeting academics to innovate and experiment with the medium could be the key to improving Twitter’s utility as a research tool.