11 Essential Hashtags for Academics

Academic twitterJust over a year ago I began tweeting as @AcademiaObscura, and in that time I have converted from a twitter sceptic to a fervent advocate. Twitter, and other social media tools, can be invaluable for connecting with others in your field, disseminating your work, and keeping up-to-date with the latest research and news. Indeed, once you are past the hump, Twitter becomes useful for all sorts of things. If you are new to Twitter I highly recommend the Thesis Whisperer’s explanation here (scroll down a little to the using twitter section) and LSE’s guide.

Hashtags are a great way to follow specific discussions, and a number have become staples of the academic twittersphere (side note: I use Tweetdeck to follow numerous hashtags simultaneously – intro here). This list is an attempt to introduce the essentials. Special thanks to Raul Pacheco-Vega, whose extremely useful post provided the basis and inspiration for this.

1. #PhDchat
The hashtag for all things PhD, PhDchat is a staple of academic Twitter, having been initially started all the way back in December 2009 by Nasima Riazat (@NSRiazat). A great place to discuss your research progress, get tips and tricks, share experiences etc. Structured sessions are also hosted:

  • UK/Europe: Wednesday nights, 7.30pm-8.30pm GMT (hosted by Nasima herself)
  • Australia: usually the first Wednesday each month, 7pm-8pm Sydney time (hosted by Inger Mewburn – @thesiswhisperer)

More: There is a satisfyingly geeky analysis of the #PhDchat community here.

2. #ECRchat/#AdjunctChat
As above, but specifically for ‘Early Career Researchers’ (ECR) and adjuncts.

3. #AltAc/#PostAc/#WithAPhD
A trio of useful hashtags for those trying to find alternative academic paths, get out of academia altogether, or figure out what to do with a PhD. Jennifer Polk (@FromPhDToLife) is your go-to person on all of these!

600_3663352324. #shutupandwrite
‘Shut Up and Write’, aside from being a great mantra in general, is the name for informal writing groups convened the world over. I guarantee that attending such a group will be the best decision you ever make in terms of writing productivity. But if there isn’t a group near you (and you don’t have the inclination to start one) you can join one virtually through twitter! They take place on the 1st & 3rd Tuesday each month (#suwtues):

5. #AcWri
AcWri, short for ‘academic writing’ is a great place to find helpful tips, motivational tidbits, and articles about the writing process itself.

6. #ICanHazPdf
Have you ever gone to download that crucial paper you need only to find that it is behind a paywall? If your institutional subscriptions don’t cover what you are looking for, simply tweet the details of the paper along with the hashtag and an email address. Usually someone will come through with the paper pretty quickly. Don’t forget to delete your tweet after!

More: Check out some interesting analysis of #ICanHazPdf here and here, and critical discussions here and here.

7. #ScholarSunday
There is a tradition on Twitter of doing #FollowFriday (or #ff) for short – sending a tweet with a few names of people you recommend to others. Raul Pacheco-Vega created Scholar Sunday to go a step further, calling on academics to share not only who they recommend, but also why.

More: discussion from the hashtags creator.

8. #AcaDowntime
Amongst all the writing, teaching, and general stress of academic life, it is more important than ever to set aside for rest and relaxation. #AcaDowntime calls for academics to share what fun things they are up to on their weekends and in their free time. Hopefully we can foster a culture of work-life balance and encourage us all to take time for ourselves.

More: I asked academics what they do in their ‘free’ time. Here’s what they said. Also read “The Workaholic and Academia: in defense of #AcaDowntime

9. Whatever is used in your field
There are many subject-specific hashtags: #twitterstorians, #realtimechem, #TrilobyteTuesday#archaeology#gistribe#runology (for the study of runes, not running)… Poke around a bit and you are bound to find something to take your fancy!

(Just for fun)

10. #AcademicsWithCats Are you an academic? Do you have a cat? Then this hashtag is for you. All the cute cats and kittens you could ever need, often in academic settings.  

More: A day in the life of an academic, with cats; The first annual Academics with Cats Awards.

11. #AcademicsWithBeer If you don’t have a cat but you do love beer, this one’s for you! We have Elena Milani (@biomug) to thank for this recent edition.

More: Read the call to arms (The King’s Arms, that is).

Did I miss anything? What are your favorites? Please post a comment or tweet me @AcademiaObscura. Happy tweeting!

Academics with BEER!

I love beer. So does Elena Milani (@biomug). When the Italian Neuroscientist and SciComm expert realised that no hashtag yet existed for academic beer-lovers, she set about creating one. This is her call to arms! 

tapsThe Internet and social media are plenty of cute fluffy cats, because kittens sell, especially among academics. Everybody knows that!

But what about beer? I love craft beer (and kittens, of course), and in Twitter I’ve found many hashtags on beers such as #beer #craftbeer #beerbods #beertography #breweries #beerselfie and so on.

However, there isn’t a hashtag for academics who love beer, as me, and I was curious if beer could help me to engage others scholars in Twitter. So, I started “an experiment” launching #academicswithbeer with the help of Cristina Rigutto.

A lot of people replied, retweeted and favorited this tweet! And you are invited to join the conversation too!

You can tweet:

  • Quotes
  • Selfies
  • Sketches
  • Sketchnotes or mind maps
  • Other pics or texts

But you must include beer in your pic/text/tweet!

Now, join the #academicswithbeer stream 😉

This post originally appeared at Elena’s blog, SciCommLab.

Why does it always rain on me? Academics forecast their day

People have, on occasion, asked how a particular hashtag came about. I have often wondered the same of others’ hashtag creations (#PhDAsExistentialCrucible anyone?) but usually struggle to remember what the thinking was behind my own. The latest, #AcademicForecast, is easily explained.

I started out today by trying to tackle some ‘minor revisions’ on a paper. About an hour into this process, I started to ponder, as I’m sure many of you have, why supposedly minor revisions take so long? Admittedly some of the reviewer’s comments were indeed minor and swiftly dealt with (I had failed to capitalize the word ‘Tuna’, perish the thought). Others, seemingly innocuous, are probably going to take a few hours to tick off the list.

I didn’t much fancy doing the big changes at that moment so I headed to Twitter to procrastinate. I’ve been seeing an unusually high level of pedantry on Twitter lately, and today was no different. Slightly deflated by the fact that my options for the day seemed to be pedantry from Reviewer B (I assume it was Reviewer B, it usually is) or pedantry on twitter, I wrote the following:

I quite liked the idea of an academic day being summed up by a slightly sarcastic weather forecast, and figured that others may wish to join me:


As usual, the academic twittersphere did not disappoint! A hundred or so tweets came in; here are a few of my favorites:


Even grammar got involved:

And, as usual, a good time was had by all 🙂

An Academic Guide to Love & Romance – Happy Valentine’s Day!

This post originally appeared on the Guardian Higher Education Network.

Whether you find yourself alone this Valentine’s Day, or you just need some top tips on pleasing your partner, our guide to love is sure to help. So put down your pen, back away from the UCLA Loneliness Scale, and read on.

If you do happen to find yourself alone, there are some reasons to be thankful. A study of 5,000 American adults found that you are still better off alone than in a dysfunctional relationship. Those in strained and unsupportive relationships were significantly more likely to develop depression compared with singletons.

Be careful though, unhealthy relationships are easy to fall into once you have been alone for a while, and research confirms that people settle for less due to a fear of being lonely. Best not to start dating during your PhD then, as this is likely the loneliest you will ever feel.

When the search for love commences, a tool created by Ben Schmidt could help. Intended to analyse gendered use of words in reviews on Rate My Professor, Schmidt’s nifty app can also narrow down your field of search for a potential mate. For example, a search for “cute” will show that the language department is the place to go, regardless of your sexual preference, while if it is intelligence you seek, philosophy and political science is where you shall find it. If you aren’t a fan of elbow patches and tweed, best steer clear of the music school.

Once you are partnered up, get into the sack as often as possible. More sex means fewer colds, not to mention that it is just plain good exercise​. There is a vast sexology literature that can be drawn on to improve your love life.

For those interested in the female orgasm, I give you the only piece of advice you will ever need, probably: ensure that the woman is wearing socks. In one study, only half of the women were able to reach orgasm, but this jumped to 80% upon the provision of socks. Warm and cosy feet calm the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, the brain regions responsible for anxiety and fear.

Even if you do find a mate and manage to live happily ever after in a blissful bubble of heteronormativity, love might still get you in the end. Being in a relationship is the most common cause of weight gain (according to research reported by the Daily Mail. I’ll say no more), and the medical literature is replete with cases of Broken Heart Syndrome. A 70 year-old woman with no prior heart problems collapsed in hospital after being informed that her husband of 45 years had died. While this is the stuff of urban legend, the jury is still out on the causal link.

The academic Twittersphere has been particularly amusing, if a little cynical, as Valentine’s Day approaches. The hashtag how to ruin a date with an academic in five words has academics pitching in with pithy comments on how not to wine and dine them:

Others have used the occasion to have a dig at the broken model of academic publishing:

#ScienceValentines is a little more warm and fuzzy, if asteroids and cold fusion are your cup of tea:

However, the romantic side of scientists apparently only extends so far, as Guardian blogger Dean Burnett demonstrates:

Best of luck in all your romantic and academic endeavours. Tweet me @AcademiaObscura and let us know how you fare. If this guide hasn’t helped you, then lock the doors, crack open a bottle of wine, and spend the evening writing that latest paper by candlelight. So romantic.

Top 8 #AlternateScienceMetrics

The Twittersphere has been all a flutter with this week with academics writing in with proposed methods for measuring the impact of publications (#AlternateScienceMetrics). This was all kicked off by Neil Hall’s paper in Genome Biology. That and 7 more of our favourites follow.1 Enjoy!

1. The Kardashian Index
Neil Hall’s paper, ‘The Kardashian index: a measure of discrepant social media profile for scientists’, is full of great lines and it is a good idea to go and read the whole thing. In perhaps the most honest description of Kim Kardashian ever written, Hall says 

she comes from a privileged background and, despite having not achieved anything consequential in science, politics or the arts… she is one of the most followed people on twitter and among the most searched-for on Google”

Hall is concerned that Kim Kardashian academics walk amongst us: individuals who are “renowned for being renowned”, who command a strong following on social media but do not match it with significant scientific output. Realising this, Hall wanted “develop a metric that will clearly indicate if a scientist has an overblown public profile so that we can adjust our expectations of them accordingly”. His rather neat solution is to compare the number of followers an academic has on Twitter with the number of citations to their peer-reviewed work.

Where F(a) is the actual number of twitter followers and F(c) is the number of citations.

Where F(a) is the actual number of twitter followers and F(c) is the number of citations.

The outliers, those with a high ratio of followers to citations (a K-index greater than 5), are labelled ‘Kardashians’. A high K-index is a “warning to the community that researcher X may have built their public profile on shaky foundations, while a very low K-index suggests that a scientist is being undervalued.”

kardashian graph

Twitter followers versus number of scientific citations for a sort-of-random sample of researcher tweeters.

It is worth noting however that Hall’s paper, while obviously intended as a joke, is not without its own problems, and not everyone finds it amusing.

2. The Kanye Index
It didn’t take long for academic tweeters to catch on to the potential here, and of course Kanye West was quickly in the line of fire.

We’ve all read a Kanye West paper or two, where the author seems to take great delight in citing themselves multiple times in one paper, so this metric comes in at number two.

3. The Counterfactual Index    

We academics love the idea that we are leaving our mark on the world in some way, contributing positively to society. Yet the reality of the publication mill is that a lot of stuff gets written that is only ever read by a very small number of people. The Counterfactual Index may therefore be both illuminating, and depressing.

4. The Priorities Index

I particularly like this one as I have a terrible record with house/office plants. I once bought a plant called ‘Thrives on Neglect‘, but I managed to kill it after only a couple of weeks. The sad nugget of truth behind this one is that academics are often working so hard on so many different projects that they neglect everything else, from plants to relationships. Calculating your Priorities Index might just help you get a little perspective!

5. The Minion Index

The Minion Index will likely appeal most to PhD students and postdocs, who are frequently required to slog away on papers only to be the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th author. This is often the case even though most disciplines have established rules about the order of authors.

6. The Bechdel Index

The Bechdel Test is a test originally proposed, albeit as a bit of sarcasm in a cartoon strip, to identify feminist-friendly films. The test could feasibly be used in academia to highlight the yawning inequality gap, already being explored by a number of researchers.

7. The Adam Sandler Index

Another classic technique in academia: repackaging something you already wrote as something all new and shiny for submission to another journal. Slightly different, but basically the same: much like the never ending stream of tediously unfunny Adam Sandler films.

8. The Dawkins Index

Poor old Richard Dawkins has experienced something of a fall from grace this week, having yet again put his foot in his mouth. Only natural then that a Dawkins Index was quickly proposed, lambasting his overactive internet presence. The latest research predicts the following timeline for Dawkins: BtuBfG0IAAIxIY5
For some more #AlternateScienceMetrics you can check out this lovely collection. Thanks again to Neil for kicking it all off (no need to retire just yet).


Update: Another good roundup here.

  1. Why eight? It was late and I got tired.