Listening to our audience on Twitter

As many of you know, PLoS has a Twitter stream and Facebook page, with a combined audience of over 5000. We use them to encourage a two way dialogue with our community – we share science and news to stimulate debate and we sometimes hear about the novel ways that people are using our content.


Twitter is a microblogging site that give users like PLoS 140 characters to answer the simple question “what are you doing?”.

For a while we’ve been following Marcia on Twitter, she’s a Brazilian based Science Communicator, specializing in biomedicine and a member of the National Association of Science Writers-USA.  She travels around her country teaching students in some of the best hospitals and universities how to write good manuscripts and powerpoints. She uses PLoS articles extensively in her classes as a teaching aid. Here are some of her exercises:

1) In the abstract below, identify what information belongs to each section of the article (introduction, Material and Methods, Results and Discussion). For this task she uses a PLoS Pathogens paper entitled Viral Paratransgenesis in the Malaria Vector Anopheles gambiae.

2) In the introductions below, identify the following: background information, the question the article aims to answer, and the approach used by the authors to answer/test their hypothesis. For this task she uses two PLoS ONE articles, one entitled Clickstream Data Yields High-Resolution Maps of Science, and the other Expert Financial Advice Neurobiologically “Offloads” Financial Decision-Making under Risk.

3) In the discussion below, indicate all the places where the author needs to add a reference (for this she removes the indication of references from the text and show the original version when they finish the exercise). For this task the PLoS ONE article she uses is Expert Financial Advice Neurobiologically “Offloads” Financial Decision-Making under Risk.

4) For the Power Point Workshop, she asks them to read the PLoS Computational Biology article entitled Adventures in Semantic Publishing: Exemplar Semantic Enhancements of a Research Article and pretend they are the authors of the paper who were invited for a 10-minute presentation on the subject in an international meeting. This requires them to learn how to identify the main message and prepare no more than 5 to 6 slides to be presented in only 10 minutes.

We’re always delighted to know that PLoS articles, freely accessible to everyone, are being used to train the next generation of scientists in the skills of good scientific communication. We also encourage this art form through our editors summaries and through articles such as the Ten Simple Rules for Getting Published, from a collection about best practice for career-minded scientists in PLoS Computational Biology.

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2 Responses to Listening to our audience on Twitter

  1. Mike Chelen says:

    Are there plans for different PLoS journals (Biology, One, etc.) to have their own accounts? Following PLoS activity on Twitter is a nice way to keep up with the latest news, and promotes discussion of the topics.

  2. publicase says:

    Hi everyone,

    The PLoS content has been a great teaching aid in my workshops in manuscript writing. I can use it freely and I can pick a new PLoS article every time my audience changes. Instead of using always the same material in my workshops I can constantly change the articles and use new ones or those that are more appropriate for a specific public.
    I hope my ideas will inspire others to create new ways to teach researchers how to write not just more but better papers, and with that contribute for the progress of science.

    Marcia Triunfol

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