Scientific networks on Twitter: Analyzing scientists’ interactions in the climate change debate (2019)

Abstract
Scientific issues requiring urgent societal actions—such as climate change—have increased the need for communication and interaction between scientists and other societal actors. Social media platforms facilitate such exchanges. This study investigates who scientists interact with on Twitter, and whether their communication differs when engaging with actors beyond the scientific community. We focus on the climate change debate on Twitter and combine network analysis with automated content analysis. The results show that scientists interact most intensively with their peers, but also communication beyond the scientific community is important. The findings suggest that scientists adjust their communication style to their audience: They use more neutral language when communicating with other scientists, and more words expressing negative emotions when communicating with journalists, civil society, and politicians. Likewise, they stress certainty more when communicating with politicians, indicating that scientists use language strategically when communicating beyond the scientific community.

Walter, Stefanie; Lörcher, Ines; Brüggemann, Michael (2019): Scientific networks on Twitter: Analyzing scientists’ interactions in the climate change debate. In Public Understanding of Science, 696-712. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1177/0963662519844131.

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