1. Henly, Susan J.

Article Content

Communication in science remained unchanged for centuries. Academic journals were the main vehicle for sharing findings from experiments and other research studies. Articles published in peer-reviewed, high-reputation journals were the "coin of the realm." Conference presentation was critical as an initial venue for sharing new ideas and receiving feedback about them. Transfer of ideas beyond the "ivory tower" was challenging, even in applied fields, so that research translation became a topic unto itself. However, the times are changing now-fast. The explosion of social media usage over the past 10 years is altering the settings and the social ecology for communication in science, just as in other walks of life.


Statistics from a variety of sources show that global Internet penetration has increased from roughly 18% in 2006 to around 46% now; over 3 billion people are now connected to the Internet. Statistics on social media usage are staggering. Facebook-opened to public access in 2006-is the current world leader in the social media space, with 1.55 billion monthly registered users. Twitter was created in 2006 and now has 320 million users, with nearly one third using the microblog service every day. Mobile technology is fast becoming the preferred method of accessing the Internet and its social media platforms. Usage varies by age, with millennials leading the way to new platforms but also being quick to change to try new sites as they become available.


Like me, many of you no doubt started using social media for personal reasons. I opened a Facebook account when I wanted to receive photos from my fellow travelers during a trip to Japan in 2009. My usage has crept up over the years. Although the number of Facebook friends I have is modest, I check in with all 99 every day. My Twitter experience was different: I opened my account in 2010 when I was exploring the emerging user-generated content of Web 2.0 for a big data-based sabbatical proposal. After an initial flurry of use, I rarely used Twitter. This week, I looked up my account name and password to check out what was up. I was surprised at how different it was. There is now a wealth of professional and scientific information on both Facebook and Twitter.


What created the change? Scientists are increasingly engaged in social media on a variety of platforms (Van Noorden, 2014) because it helps to keep them up to date, allows easy following of the work of others, and supports discovery of new ideas and publications (Gruzd & Goertzen, 2013). Social media allows users across the world to have quick access to content, greatly expanding the reach of scientific journals. Placing science content in the social media space extends dissemination beyond the usual readership of academic journals, which is especially important in the health sciences like nursing because the new information is of critical and immediate interest to individuals, families, caregivers, and policy makers. Placing information about content on social media channels increases exposure to journalists and the traditional media, where uptake can leverage the impact of published papers. The publication life cycle can now be found on Twitter (Darling, 2013). Twitter is used at conferences and to support discussion of research issues.


Nursing Research opened Facebook and Twitter accounts in 2010. Our goals and activities are deliberate. Posts and tweets announce the current contents of the journal. Nursing Research authors are showcased. Our sites serve as a hub for accessing research resources for nursing scientists. Information about critical and current health events from authoritative sources are shared and retweeted. Nursing Research has accumulated nearly 2,000 likes on Facebook and has over 400 followers on Twitter. It is a good start. We hope that both will increase in the days and years to come as we combine social media with our traditional scholarly publication activities to support our key mission: disseminating the best in nursing research to nursing scientists, scientists in related fields, nurses, health decision makers, policy makers, and people across the world. We invite you to like Nursing Research on Facebook,, and follow Nursing Research on Twitter, @NResonline.




Darling E. ( 2013). It's time for scientists to tweet. In The Conversation. Retrieved from[Context Link]


Gruzd A., & Goertzen M. ( 2013). Wired academia: Why social science scholars are using social media. Proceedings of the 46th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), 3332-3341. doi:10.1109/HICSS.2013.614) [Context Link]


Van Noorden R. ( 2014). Scientists and the social network. Nature, 512, 126-129. [Context Link]