How to start with Twitter when you conduct trauma research

Last week I argued that academics studying psychological trauma should join Twitter because it helps & builds the research community.

This week I explain how to start with Twitter and I invite you for a live Tweet chat.

A few examples of interesting tweets in the past few days:

Setting up 

Setting up your Twitter account is easy. Go to and within 3 minutes you’re up and running with Twitter’s straightforward instructions to sign up and to get started. Make sure your username as short as possible without losing meaning: when people ‘retweet’ (repeat) or reply to one of your tweets, they will need to include your username within the 140 characters.

When people consider following you on Twitter, they look at your profile. They don’t tend to follow empty ones. Therefore, take another 5 minutes for 4 important steps:

  1. Upload a picture in your profile; either of yourself or of something that represents you. Don’t stay an egg.
  2. Write a short bio (maximum 160 characters) with your main interests.
  3. Write your first Tweet! And your second. And your third. Then you’re ready to be followed.
  4. Let me (@EvaAlisic) know you are on Twitter; I’ll send around a tweet with your name and interests.

Who to follow?

When you follow people, you see their tweets in your feed. The easiest way to start, is to click on this Twitterlist of trauma, PTSD and recovery researchers & institutions. When you’re logged in on Twitter, you can click on ‘subscribe’ to follow the entire list, or you can click ‘follow’ on the profiles of members you are most interested in. Some examples:

  • @nctsn – the US National Child Traumatic Stress Network: “Raising the standard of care and improving access to services for traumatized children, their families, and communities throughout the US.”
  • @traumareport – Trauma Lab: “The Trauma and Attachment Report is a weekly online research report published out of York University in Toronto, Canada”
  • @safetymd – Flaura Winston, MD: “Mother,engineer,pediatrician, researcher. Credible info to keep children & adolescents safe.”

I also follow a few people who tweet on psychology in general, for example:









The London School of Economics’ Impact blog has a number of interesting lists of tweeting academics. Chris Jarrett has made a list on the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest.

What to tweet?

Everything you want, basically. For example:

  • questions you have about particular methods / theories / …
  • links to your own and others’ papers
  • PhD scholarships and academic positions that become available in your Department
  • interesting news items
  • upcoming seminars & conferences

And along the way, you’ll start to know people and interact with them.


What style? And how often?

LSE Impact blog has made a nice overview of three styles you could adopt, from very formal to very personal. Tips that I have often seen: take your time to develop your ‘voice’; have a look at what other people do and decide what you like; and experiment with different styles. Yesterday, Inger Mewburn (aka @thesiswhisperer) referred to this article on thin vs. thick tweets on her blog.

Regarding the frequency: I think checking Twitter twice a day is ideal but once a day is a good starting point. It will keep you updated and people will slowly but surely get to know you.



Hashtags are used on Twitter to categorize tweets so they become searchable and follow-able. A hashtag for trauma research will allow you to follow discussions, ask questions, and find interesting people in your research domain. So far, #tprres (Trauma, PTSD & Recovery Research), has been suggested. But we could also use a more straightforward one, such as #traumaresearch. Please cast your vote for the best hashtag (second poll on the page).

Tweet chat

If there is enough interest, we’ll have Tweet chats (live chats on Twitter) among trauma researchers. Would you like to participate in one in the next few weeks? Please cast your vote for the best date & time (first poll on the page).

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