By Dennis Halterman, Interactions Editor-in-Chief
If you’re like me, you have a Twitter account but you only use it once in a while. Or maybe you’ve heard about using social media to communicate your science but haven’t yet taken the leap. Setting up work-related social media accounts is relatively easy and, once you have an account set up, you’ll find a wealth of information shared by your fellow scientists (so much, in fact, that it’s difficult to keep up with everything). One aspect of communicating science among fellow scientists is to share recent papers or other news items that you find interesting. I’ve personally noticed several IS-MPMI members use a tool called “Scoop.it” (www.scoop.it) to organize and share recent papers related to their research. In this article, I’ll describe how to get started setting up and using your own Scoop.it account.
What is Scoop.it?
Basically, it’s a way to publish content that you want to share with others. Scoop.it helps you acquire content and then share it via social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). The purpose of using Scoop.it in our community is primarily to share research articles, but the site is also used by many different disciplines.
Step one: Sign up. Visit the Scoop.it website and set up an account.
Step two: Create a topic. On your dashboard screen (click on your name in the upper right corner and select ‘My Dashboard’), you will have the option to “Create a Topic.” This topic will be curated by you. It helps to choose a topic name that will have general interest, but you can change it later, if needed. Some topics curated by other IS-MPMI members are Plants and Microbes (Kamoun Lab); Plant Pathogenic Fungi (Steve Marek); MycorWeb Plant-Microbe Interactions (Francis Martin); Plant-Microbe Symbiosis (Jean-Michel Ané); TAL Effector Science (Sebastian Schornack); and several others.
Click on “Create a Topic” and name your topic. You have the option to have your topic hidden (only visible to you) or not. Since the purpose of this is to share your content with others, you’ll likely leave this box unchecked. With the free version, you can only choose one topic to curate. You can, of course, pay to upgrade your account, which will allow you to curate more topics. Or, you can unlock features using points earned by becoming more active in your curation, inviting friends, etc.
Step three: Start curating. You can find suggested content by adding keywords, but I found this to be somewhat cumbersome. If you pick general terms like “potato” or “plants,” you’re going to find a lot of junk suggestions. But you can filter the suggestions to just “Articles,” if you want. If you’re looking to scoop research articles, you can add the journal name to the keywords.
When you find content that you’d like to scoop through the keyword search, you can click on the “Scoop.it” button. Here, you’re offered the opportunity to distribute your scoop via social media. On the right-hand side of this window, you can choose a photo to accompany your scoop and the layout of the scoop. In some cases, the photo options are limited, so you can upload your own or delete the photo entirely.
Another useful tool is the Scoop.it bookmarklet. This is an invaluable resource that allows you to add content while you’re browsing. Click on your name on the upper right-hand corner of the Scoop.it page to bring up the menu that contains “Bookmarklet.” On this page, you can drag and drop the Scoop.it button to your bookmark toolbar in your browser window. When you’re browsing articles and find one that you’d like to curate, you can simply click on the Scoop.it bookmarklet and it will format the content for you.
Step four: Follow other curated topics. Have other interests other than your curated topic? Of course you do. If you’d like to follow other people’s topics, go to the search window at the top of the page and search for topics or users inside Scoop.it. You can search for people you know are active Scoop.it users or search for a topic like “Plants and Microbes.” This will bring up scoops related to this topic. If you click on the topic (under the name of the person who scooped the content), you’ll have a chance to “follow” this topic by clicking the box in the upper left corner of the page. Now, back on your dashboard page, you can select “My Followed Topics” to find all of these pages. (Scoop.it autofills some topics. If you’d like to remove them, you can click on the topic and select “unfollow.”)
That’s it! You’re on you’re way to becoming a social media guru and making yourself (and your research) more visible to the community. When you come across content that you’d like to share, simply click on the Scoop.it bookmark button. Or visit other curated pages on topics of interest and “rescoop” content that also fits with your topic of interest.