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June 10, 2012 / caitlynzim

All A’Twitter: How Social Media Aids in Science Outreach – Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Talking with the Social Media Experts

After creating the initial draft, I contacted multiple social media experts – professors using social media, social media professionals, etc – and set up meetings, if possible, to discuss the questions I had created. I wanted to make sure that the questions targeted my research questions and would gather the information I desired. I also wanted to know if these professionals were interested in any information on social media use that I would be able to gather for them. They were much more knowledgeable concerning current data gaps and I wanted my survey to help fill those gaps when possible. For example, the questions regarding what blogs scientists read and scientists’ feelings towards social media came from a social media professional (Neeley).

Talking with these experts gave me a better sense of social media within the science world. I was under the impression that those scientists not using social media did not understand the full value of social media, were simply stuck in their ways or did not know of social media. However, there is a large group of scientists that feel hostility towards social media; these scientists know the basics of social media and yet are very offended by the popularity of it (Neeley) due to the lack of peer review process and subsequent apparent lack of credibility.

Apart from giving me valuable insight into scientist’s perspective of social media, these experts assisted me in wording and developing my questions. My question that discussed possible sources of help for social media use was greatly aided by expert input. Seeking out the opinions of people that had directly worked with scientists to further their social media skills allowed them to give amazing insight into what help could be offered to really assist scientists, such as speaking with someone trusted (Neeley); as opposed to my generalized guess work of what seemed helpful.

I sought out the help of professors and students at Duke as a way to pre-­‐test the survey. I distributed it to professors and students both using and not using social media and requested them to take the survey and let me know if they had any questions or comments. These pre-­‐testers were able to catch technology errors within the survey application – I used Qualtrix.com – as well as insight into how to better format and phrase questions. I also sent the survey to my co-­‐workers at NOAA CSC to pre-­‐test the institutional survey. Only minor changes were made after this pre-­‐test.

After speaking with the experts and pre-­‐testing with professors and students, I felt confident enough to distribute the survey to the rest of the people and institutions I had listed as ideal candidates. I then proceeded to post the link to both surveys on my blog and send them out over my personal Twitter and Facebook accounts to distribute to an even wider audience than I would have reached otherwise.

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