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Business & Education Professional Development

Poster Haste

How do Twitter poster sessions work?

Participants tweet an image of their poster with the title and hashtags #RSCPoster and the area (e.g. #RSCAnal) at any point throughout a 24-hour period. This means that people anywhere in the world can join in. When I had the idea I got in touch with RSC around October 2014 and they backed it. We were able to hold the first one early in 2015 and it’s grown from there. For the RSC Analytical Twitter Poster Conference 2016 we had excellent engagement, with 2,670 tweets, 435 contributors, 815,866 audience members, 2.9m impressions and more than 80 posters over 24 hours.

How do Twitter poster sessions work?

Participants tweet an image of their poster with the title and hashtags #RSCPoster and the area (e.g. #RSCAnal) at any point throughout a 24-hour period. This means that people anywhere in the world can join in. When I had the idea I got in touch with RSC around October 2014 and they backed it. We were able to hold the first one early in 2015 and it’s grown from there. For the RSC Analytical Twitter Poster Conference 2016 we had excellent engagement, with 2,670 tweets, 435 contributors, 815,866 audience members, 2.9m impressions and more than 80 posters over 24 hours.

How has it developed since the first session?

We have made a couple of changes based upon feedback and our own thoughts about the event. One was to introduce a Tumblr site to help people put up better images of their posters, in case they needed to convey important results more easily. Now in the third incarnation, we have been able to expand to all aspects of chemical sciences. I heard from scientists in other areas of chemistry who liked the idea of a Twitter poster conference, so it seemed like a natural progression.

How does it compare to a traditional poster session?

It is of course different, as you don’t have someone in front of you, but the attendees have said that they enjoyed the interaction and the chance to think about question and answers. Although the brevity of 140 characters is sometimes a difficulty.

What is it like to manage?

Overall it is fun, as it is still a new idea and things are changing rapidly. With the expansion to the chemical sciences this year there is a bit more administration to sort out but I have excellent co-organisers (Ed, Sam and Craig) and great help from Philippa and Sarah at the RSC. I would like to thank the excellent scientific committee, which we have managed to expand this year – they are all volunteers and without them this would not be possible.

How important is social media for science?

It could have a very important role in communicating science and in particular, breaking down any access barriers that researchers may have – such as cost or ability to travel, which can bar attendance at other conferences. I think it would be great to crack effective networking over Twitter, too. If you can combine communication with excellent networking opportunities, it could really have an impact upon researchers and science.

What’s next?

I would like it to evolve to be bigger still – we have already have requests to include chemical education research. A few of the attendees have started presenting their posters by video – so let’s see what the attendees come up with this year!

Follow Matt: @ChemistryBaker

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About the Author
Joanna Cummings

A former library manager and storyteller, I have wanted to write for magazines since I was six years old, when I used to make my own out of foolscap paper and sellotape and distribute them to my family. Since getting my MSc in Publishing, I’ve worked as a freelance writer and content creator for both digital and print, writing on subjects such as fashion, food, tourism, photography – and the history of Roman toilets. Now I can be found working on The Analytical Scientist, finding the ‘human angle’ to cutting-edge science stories.

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