For scientists, Twitter provides a space to get advice, collaborate, and share research with colleagues around the world. According to a recent survey by C&EN of 244 chemists who use Twitter, 70% use the platform to network within their chemistry subdisciplines. Just 52% of chemists say they use Twitter to network with other disciplines and sciences.
C&EN took a closer look at the #ChemTwitter network with Paulette Vincent-Ruz, a PhD candidate in chemistry education at the University of Pittsburgh who researches the experiences and environments that make someone identify as a chemist or chemistry fan. Our study of over 2,000 chemistry accounts reveals that #ChemTwitter is more fragmented than may first appear. Read on to learn more about #ChemTwitter’s secret silos and meet nine silo breakers who can help and inspire you to broaden your network on Twitter.
The #ChemTwitter network appears simple when you consider connections based on who follows whom, as shown here for more than 2,000 accounts. But looking at who follows whom is just a small part of the #ChemTwitter picture. We wanted to know: How are chemists interacting with each other?
So we examined not only followers but also likes, comments, and retweets among 2,154 accounts. It turns out that 84% of them interact in 11 key silos. The silos tend to focus on specific topics as well as geographic regions.
There are 1,815 accounts in these 11 key silos. The remaining 300-some accounts fit into 16 small, unthemed silos containing fewer than 45 accounts each and are not considered here. The orange circles are topical silos, and the blue circles are regional silos. The larger the circle, the greater the number of accounts; and the line thickness is related to the amount of traffic between the silos.
Let’s take a closer look at these 11 silos.
The Analytical Chemists
The Analytical Chemists love spectroscopy and chromatography. They tend to talk with the Science Communicators, whom you will discover below. This could be because more than 60% of both groups are based in the UK.
There are 65 Analytical Chemist accounts.
The Biochemists work in biochemistry and similar disciplines, such as molecular biology. They care a lot about science communication, open-access publishing, and biochemical techniques like gene editing.
78% of the Biochemist accounts are in the US, so it’s no surprise that they talk the most with the North Americans and the US Journals Crowd.
There are 108 Biochemist accounts.
The Environmental Chemists
The Environmental Chemists love, well, environmental chemistry. They are primarily atmospheric chemists concerned with air quality both inside and outside.
These folks interact with the North Americans the most, which makes sense because 71% of the accounts are based in the US and Canada.
There are 46 Environmental Chemist accounts.
The Chemistry Educators
The Chemistry Educators are dominated by chemistry teachers, many of them at the high school level. They interact the most with the North Americans—no surprise given that 96% of these accounts are based in the US and Canada.
This group is distinct from the Science Communicators, presumably because of the time difference between this group and those on the other side of the pond.
There are 85 Chemistry Educator accounts.
The Science Communicators
The Science Communicators are mostly working researchers who are passionate about science communication. This is also where you will find the Royal Society of Chemistry and Chemistry World.
This group interacts the most with the Brits, Europeans, and North Americans in about the same amounts. 73% of this group is based in the UK, suggesting this silo is also location based.
There are 304 Science Communicator accounts.
The European Journals and Industry
The European Journals and Industry are made up of official journal and industry company accounts. 39% of these accounts are European journals, mostly those published by Wiley; industry and pharma make up another 22%.
Interestingly, this silo interacts with the North Americans the most, despite 69% of the accounts being based in Europe. That said, there is still a lot of communication between this group and the Europeans.
There are 96 European Journals and Industry accounts.
The US Journals Crowd
The US Journals Crowd is 31% official US journal accounts, including those of the American Chemical Society and the National Academy of Sciences.
Personal accounts, including those of journal editors and chemistry reporters, make up 69% of this silo. That number is just 31% for European Journals and Industry.
Unsurprisingly, there is a massive amount of conversation between this group and the North Americans.
There are 314 US Journals Crowd accounts.
The Australasians are largely from Australia and New Zealand. The Aussies and Kiwis who make up 53% of the accounts in this silo are passionate about science communication. They also communicate the most with the North Americans. Interestingly, 24% of accounts are chemists in the US, and 19% are chemists in Europe.
There are 148 Australasian accounts.
The Brits are more passionate about scientific history than the rest of the silos. 67% of the chemists in this silo live in the UK.
They talk most to the Science Communicators, which makes sense given the strong presence of people from the UK in that group.
There are 157 Brit accounts.
The Europeans care a lot about early-career chemists. This silo has the largest European representation and draws from twice as many European countries as any of the other silos, although the majority of the accounts originate in the UK. Nature Chemistry is also a part of this silo.
Interestingly, the Europeans talk to the North Americans more than any other silo by a landslide.
There are 198 European accounts.
The North Americans
The North Americans are dominated by chemists based in the US or Canada (78%). Accounts in this silo interact the most with the US Journals Crowd, which makes sense since the majority of chemists in both silos are based in the US and Canada.
There are 294 North American accounts.