PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


A useful tool to communicate science in University research centers

Clementina Equihua  

Twitter is a Web 2.0 microblogging tool that improves public engagement with science. It is useful to explore and measure the dynamics of every content. It also acts as a public voice for sciences, enhancing communication between scientists and the general public. The Institutes of Ecology and of Mathematics from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) have communicators managing Twitter accounts since 2012. In both cases, the Twitter strategy fits the model of public engagement with science. The aim of this paper is to assess public acceptance of science information delivered as microblogs from research centers, its social impact and its role in facilitating wide public participation. We analyze both Twitter accounts and compare our results with other research centers, from UNAM and abroad, with similar communication objectives. We identify subjects that are favored by the public, determine how much people interact and try to estimate their interest on science. We found that for their audience impact, both centers are positioned in Twitter as important accounts in Mexico and other countries. We measure this impact by the constant increase in followers and their nationality, amount of "favorites", "retweets" and visits to the institutional profile pages. With their public visibility, accounts are becoming a confiable source of information and their reputation is increasing and recognized by the public, media, institutions and even politicians. This benefits both research centers in particular and science in general. This paper provides some criteria for understanding how do similar institutions might use Twitter as a tool in order to not just post updates of academic events, but by popularizing science in several ways. We show the importance of social media for contributing to the knowledge society, an objective of public universities.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.