Andy Tattersall argues that in a “post-truth” world, academics have a responsibility to get engaged on social media. He says that this can help them reach wider audiences in a time when expert advice is highly necessary.
Communicating with people outside of academia means reaching those who might directly benefit from the research. These individuals and groups can then help shape future research aims and give useful feedback to scientists.
Still, many academics remain reluctant. There is no clear evidence that social media generates research impact that is beneficial to society, culture and the economy or at least it is very hard to measure.
Some academics have even lost tenure as a result of their behaviour on Twitter, while others have tried to disguise their limited expertise by building a reputation for authority online. With mounting pressure on the time of academics, social media can seem like it isn’t worth the effort.
Despite this, research shows that there is growing curiosity among scholars to use social media in their work, but to sustain this interest there needs to be clearer evidence of the benefits. In the age of Brexit and fake news, social media is more important to academia than ever before.