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I am currently a PhD student and I have done some research and got great results. I have a Twitter account in which I have not mentioned anything about my research. My followers are mainly normal people with a few researchers.

I want to share some of my research results in my Twitter account. However these are planned to be published in a journal later this year. I do not know if it is acceptable to share a figure or two that may reveal many things about the research and the results.

So, how will this impact my research future and journal publications? I have seen some researchers who share their results after their work is published. But I am excited about my results and I want to share some parts informally with the world.

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    Are you familiar with preprints, and are they used in your field?
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 14:37
  • Anyone want to weigh in on whether posting to social media could be construed as "publishing". If so, it would be foolish to use such channels.
    – Buffy
    Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 14:49
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    I think it would depend very much on your field and on how your work is funded. Ex, there are some grants which require they (or you) retain all rights to any data or results, whereas some social media assumes the right to use any graphics you post for their own marketing purposes. Of course this probably won't matter, but you should know about it. It's possible also that your university or the journal itself have restrictions on how you can publicize your work - they may want their public relations people to have first right of refusal.
    – mim
    Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 15:23
  • And there's also the issue of establishing priority on this research; if you publish too much, is there a chance someone else can scoop you, whether by publishing first or by submitting grant proposals for the next phase of the work?
    – mim
    Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 15:24
  • If you have collaborators for these projects make sure that they are OK with it before tweeting anything about the project.
    – Nick S
    Commented Mar 30, 2022 at 4:28

3 Answers 3

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My suggestion is to avoid social media for such things. There are a couple of issues to consider. While you seem to retain copyright for posts to Twitter et. al. it might be hard to actually protect your rights since so many people see such things and they are in different legal jurisdictions.

But a possibly more serious issue is whether posting constitutes "publication" of the material, including graphics. Some publications won't consider things that have been previously "published" other than in certain restricted ways, such as a preprint server.

A website used by poets, for example, suggests that some poetry publishers won't consider things posted online in any form, discouraging poets from tweeting their work. Poetry is a bit different from most academic publishing, of course, but it is a consideration.

I'd suggest holding expressions of your ideas a bit closer until you have a publisher. There are other forms of communication that don't "broadcast" your expression. While there are some advantages in being widely seen, it seems to me to be better if it is a bit more formal. You also avoid the possible problem of attracting cranks.

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If your field widely uses preprints and conferences, it would be acceptable. ML/AI research is largely fine with it. Otherwise, abstain from doing that prior to publication. And not just because of copyright/possible scooping.

Do not get me wrong, blogging about your research is great! But instead of the cutting edge ideas you have not even explored yourself in full, you might want to stick to general insights and "current literature reviews" instead. It would likely be a whole lot more digestible to your audience. One possible exception is providing updates on the experimental setup, the way CERN or NASA would do it. This gets into a very complex territory, however: sometimes the whole culture, from journals to the university press office, allows for that kind of dissemination, sometimes not. Even if such system is in place, it often would not be using a personal social media account. Derailing even further - if you have seen this type of social media posts in your field but not your university specifically, it might be plausible to float the idea around with the administration stating you would like to explore giving more visibility to your research using that venue.

TL;DR: Do not do that unless you are in a field where it already is a big part of the research culture. If it is not obviously accepted, but you see a possibility of that being accepted, talk to relevant people first (PI, if you are not one, research administration, press office). All this provided that there are no known incidents in your field preventing people who did that from publishing.

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I definitely recommend academic twitter for sharing your published work.

However, I would NOT recommend tweeting about initial results / in-progress work, because:

  • Perhaps a bit paranoid, but doing so gives others (who are maybe doing something similar) ideas, and perhaps they could beat you to publishing it.
  • You mention that your twitter audience also includes non-scientists. There is a reason that the peer-review process exists, and prematurely reporting something, I think, can lead to the dilution the public's faith in science. For example, if there's a strong/bold conclusion from your work, and the public takes interest in this, then you've dug yourself a hole. I saw a scientist in my field do this (who doesn't like getting coverage by the BBC I guess), but they were torn apart by the field afterwards for publicizing results that were provocative and had not yet undergone the scrutiny of peer-review. So heads up that premature twitter-publishing can aggravate your colleagues and do you a disservice.
  • (+ the notes about legal considerations and what is considered a previous publication of some work, brought up by @Buffy)
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  • What is "academic twitter"?
    – Kimball
    Commented Apr 1, 2022 at 12:56
  • I solely use my twitter account for things related to what I study. I follow other researchers, governmental groups, etc. By "academic twitter", I just mean using twitter like you would LinkedIn, or something else vaguely professional.
    – Chloe
    Commented Apr 1, 2022 at 13:23

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