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Durham University

University Library

Twitter Tips for Researchers

The below guidance is aimed at new users of Twitter, or existing users of Twitter wishing to review how they use it as a tool for communicating their research. Have your own tips.. let us know!

DOIs, paywalls, open access and making it easy for people to access your research

If you are sharing your publication via social media there are two things to consider including:

  • Including the DOI (where available) will provide a direct link to the published article, and will be picked up in altmetric data and (where someone has access), download statistics curated by the publisher.
    • But remember! Not everyone will have subscription access to your published output via the DOI if it isn't open access!
  • Including a url to an open access version of the article (e.g. to the output in Durham Research Online, or the DOI if you have paid for open access for that article) will enable anyone to access the article without hitting a subscription or paywall barrier.
  • It can be tricky to fit both links and some enticing text into a single tweet, but it can be done! Example in the image below:

Liberal & Conservative tribalism = huamn nature; How to disincentivise political tribalism, promote civil political discounrse & reach compromise = crucial. Article from [three author tiwtter handles here] [DOI entered here].. can't access? #openaccess at [open access repository URL here]


'Hashtags' help link posts which are related by theme, conversation or event. You can use them to:

  • Highlight what your tweet is about - potentially reaching a wider or more interested readership than just those who already follow you.
  • Join in with a current conversation where all participants include an agreed #hashtag
  • Search for or 'follow' all tweets whihc have used a specific hashtag

Useful hashtags fo academics include:

hastags in twitter

Images and Videos

Think about the content of your tweet - and trying to catch people's eye on a platform which values brevity.

  • Tweets which include images are re-tweeted 35% more than text-only tweets.
  • Tweets which include video content are re-tweeted 28% more than text-only tweets.

[data source: Twitter (2014) http://bit/ly/2wM71tN]

But make sure that your content is relevant (or, if just intended as interesting/amusing to catch attention, is at least related to your message or research; whilst it is nice to engage with people as a 'person' who are just pushing their latest publication, think about your signal-noise ratio!

Remember to consider the copyright permissions for any image you re-use!

Include an image in your tweets

Timing your Twitter activity

Do think about timing in how you share information and engage with others on Twitter.

  1. Don't worry about missing something.. if it was important, it will come around again.
  2. If tweeting about your own research:
    • Think about what might be the best time to reach your intended audience.
    • The early morning or evening, or between 11am and 1pm are often good times to share content.
    • But what about reaching audiences in different timezones?
    • You can use tools such as Tweriod, Followerwonk or Audiense (all offer both free and premium services) to analyse your followers and activity to identify core times for reaching your audience via Twitter.
  3. Don't be afraid to repeat key tweets at different times over the following times (although be reasonable and avoid spamming followers)
    • You could use #hashtags such as #TBThursday (throw back Thursday) to highlight messages previously shared, or drop your message into different conversations you becomes engaged with.

Twitter Bios

Twitter Bios

Your Twitter Profile

Your Twitter handle (your username on twitter - it is publically visible) and your short Bio are key tools to enable a potential follower to assess whether your content will be of interest to them.

Here are some quick tips and example handles/bios:

Your Twitter Handle

  • If possible, use a single handle across all social media platforms you wish to keep connected (e.g. if you blog, have an instagram or facebook account)
  • Use a relevant name if possible to aid people discovering your profile if they search by keyword
  • Avoid using numbers (some users may mistake your profile for a spam or bot account - which frequently use random alpha-numeric combinations for a handle)
  • Keep it short - and if possible, easy to remember!

Your Twitter Bio(graphy)

  • You are very limited in terms of space (160 characters) - use it well!
    • Treat it as the introduction to your "brand" - an elevator pitch to let people know what you are all about, and what they can expect from your twitter activity.
  • You don't need to use full sentences!
    • Use keywords, but avoid text speak.
    • Avoid block capitals which can be interpreted as "shouting" or aggressive.
    • Use hashtags and include handles of other related accounts.
    • Include a disclaimer if you are linked to an identifiable organisation (e.g. "views my own")
    • Highlight key facts or esteem factors about yourself if your own profile.
  • You can include in the space provided a link to a web page: this could be your Durham Staff Profile, your ORCID, or any personal or other online profile you wish.

Managing your time and other tools

There are plenty of tools available to help you manage your Twitter interactions more efficiently. This can be helpful where:

  • You are responsible for multiple Twitter accounts (personal, research group, scholarly society, department, research project).
  • You want to post the same message to one or more different profiles or platforms simultaneously.
  • You wish to schedule some posts in advance (e.g. whilst away from work, to tie in with forthcoming announcements, events, publications)
  • You want a single place to view your own activity and interactions, but also any other discussions around known hashtags, keywords or from particular users.

Services we would recommend include:

  • Tweetdeck is a user dashboard owned by Twitter which allows you to see content from those you follow, as well as allowing you view in a single interface all mentions, replies and direct messages, as well as display any tweets mentioning particular terms, hashtags or posted by particular users.
  • Hootsuite offers both free and premium plans: the free plan allows you to manage up to 3 profiles, and schedule up to 80 tweets in advance (Correct as at September 2019).
  • IFTTT (or "if this, then that") is a platform hosting numerous 'apps' which you can link to your twitter, email, dropbox and other accounts to automate such activity. This has potential both for saving time but also for data collection for both research and impact- purpose/outreach tracking purposes. This could include:
    • automating replies when someone mentions you on twitter.
    • acknowledging and thanking new followers.
    • notify you when a new post mentioning a particular hashtag is tweeted.
    • creating a spreadsheet of all of your tweets (or all tweets related to a particular profile or hashtag).
    • automatically tweet when you add a blog post to a linked blog account.

Searching Twitter

You don't need a Twitter account to see what is happening in the 'twittersphere' - you can search twitter using their search interface here. This can be useful if you don't want an account with twitter, but want to see what people are saying on Twitter at a conference you are attending (or can't attend!) - and you know the #hashtag being used by the conference.

When searching twitter, you can also use the following tools to improve your search experience (or use their advanced search interface here or one of the APIs provided by twitter):


Will find tweets...

care duty ... containing both the term "care" and the term "duty".
"duty of care" ... containing the exact phrase "duty of care".
care OR duty ... containing either the term "care" OR the term "duty", or both terms.
duty -care ... containing the term "duty" and not the term "care".
#phdchat ... containing the hashtag #phdchat
from:DROdurham ... sent by the user @DROdurham
to:DROdurham ... sent as a reply to the user @DROdurham
@DROdurham ... mentioning by the user @DROdurham
politics filter:safe ... containing the term "politics" , with tweets marked as potentially sensitive removed.
academia filter:media ... containing the term "academia" AND including an image or a video.
academia -filter:retweets ... containing the term "academia" AND excluding 'retweets'
students filter:links ... containing the term "students" AND includes a linking URL
brexit until:2016-06-23 ... containing the term "brexit" and sent before the date 2016-06-23
WTO since:2016-06-23 ... containing the term "WTO" and sent since the date 2016-06-23
backstop ? ... containing the term "backstop" AND asking a question

Remember, you can also use apps available via IFTTT to then automate searches and exporting tweets if this is of interest.

Your Academic Liaison Librarian

James Bisset

Senior Manager
Library Research Services

0191 334 1589

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