18 February 2013

#AATG - The Academic Article Twitter Game

As a current Pre-having-Doctorate Student, I'm spending a fair amount of time reading various research articles in my field, on top of my usual 'I'm a huge nerd' quota. Its not really a bad thing that the majority of these papers are inaccessible to the non-specialist - their purpose is by and large to communicate highly specific research between highly focused researchers. Scientific Journalism does its best to translate the arcana of academia for the masses, and when its not worried about presenting a 'balanced view', or dropping the usual cliches, it does a pretty decent job.

But its time to take it to the next level - by harnessing the power of social media, and the blogosphere, and crowd-sourcing, and other trendy buzzwords that undoubtedly resonate with the youth of today. And so I present (in a stunning example of consecutive conjunction-prefaced sentences): the Academic Article Twitter Game!

The goal is to summarize the conclusion or gist of an article in simple language via a tweet - don't worry about including methodology or data analysis details, and focus more on giving an accurate rendition than making it exciting.
  • Must contain either a link to the article being summarized or enough information for a reader to find the article themselves
  • Must contain the hashtag #AATG because hashtags are the MSG of tweets - everything tastes better with them and sometimes they give people headaches and this metaphor hasn't turned out as well as I had hoped
  • Should be intelligible to a layperson - avoid jargon wherever possible
  • An article merits multiple tweets only if it makes several different points
Here's an example for an economics paper I will probably never write:
BAD:  [LINK] Agent-based models for unemployment improvable with logarthimic, rather than exponential, wage decay
BETTER:  [LINK] Economic models improvable with a logarithmic function for people's wage demands following unemployment
BEST:  [LINK] The wages that unemployed people are willing to work for may decrease slowly, then quickly, then slowly again over time

Have fun! And if you aren't reading academic articles you can instead play the I-have-a-real-job twitter game (#IHARJTG) where you just tweet like a normal person.