To be a serious academic or not?

Two articles published in the Guardian last week prompted quite a debate on whether use of social media is a good use of time for a "serious academic"

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An article published anonymously in the Guardian sparked a Twitter storm under the hashtag #SeriousAcademic. In the article a PhD student and self proclaimed "serious academic" walked right into the bowels of the internet and poked the social web with a rather large stick. You can see for yourself in the link below:

The good folks on Twitter did not react kindly to this and Dean Burnett quickly posted a response, again in the Guardian.

I have to say, despite being an advocate of social media in science, I don't completely fall out with the sentiments from our "serious academic". I also feel a little bit sorry for the personal backlash that he/she suffered, but presumably, as it all occurred on social media, they are blissfully unaware.

Despite the inconsistencies pointed out in the second article (by Dean Burnett), the "serious academic" is asking why should they have to engage in something as time consuming as social media engagement when the work they have is already demanding enough? I sympathise a lot, lab work is very demanding, as is engagement... is grant writing,

as is paper writing,

as is reviewing,

as is teaching,

as is presenting.

You get the point, most of the things that we do are demanding, but they are important. I personally think that experimenting with new communication platforms to engage with our peers and with the public is very important. How do we fit it in with everything else? Well, that's the million dollar question.

Photo by ebrkut was used under Creative Commons from Flickr.

Ben Libberton

Science Communicator, Freelance

I'm a freelance science communicator, formerly a Postdoc in the biofilm field. I'm interested in how bacteria cause disease and look to technology to produce novel tools to study and ultimately prevent infection.