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#SeabirdChat - Join the twitter conversation

Sjúrður Hammer, November 26, 2016

For some time we have toyed with the idea of getting a more “professional” alternative to the seabird research twitter chat on #SeabirderSaturday. While #SeabirderSaturday has been popular and well received, and many of us enjoy sharing and following the seabird work from all around the world, there are some who avoid being on a computer or smartphone out of office hours or weekends. So in order to continue to grow our online seabird research community, we hope that many of you may consider taking part in our upcoming #SeabirdChat. This doesn’t mean that #SeabirderSaturday will stop, because many of us still love hearing and seeing all the interesting work that is done from all around.

The idea is for #SeabirdChat to be a platform for professional knowledge exchange in a fairly informal and open way. All of us have some specific research interests and skills which without a doubt could benefit others in the community, so #SeabirdChat could become a platform for discussing any research topics that might come up, set up tutorials on core research skills such as presenting or statistical approaches which would benefit others in our field. It could also potentially become a “speakers corner” where ideas could be presented and contested, papers or books reviewed and discussed etc.

Chair a session

For this to work, we ask for your help with setting up #SeabirdChat sessions, to make sure we have at least 6 months of sessions scheduled ahead.

We ask that as soon as possible, you sign up with a potential topic, the speakers you would like to invite, and what time you would like to hold the session.

As chair you will set the agenda and decide on the format. You will be responsible for finding appropriate “invited speakers”, and prepare at least 6 questions in advance of the #SeabirdChat. If there is “required reading” or other pre-requisites for attendees, this should be shared one week prior to the #SeabirdChat. Doing a twitter surveys is also an excellent way of drawing in interest and conversation around a topic before a session.

The #SeabirdChat session could last between 30 minutes to a full hour

It is off course not expected that the chair should have all the answers, actually quite oppositely, if you are struggling with a topic, it would be a great opportunity to have a developing conversation with someone you know, which knows more about the topic of interest. The chair would also receive assistance and support in creating share-friendly content prior to the #SeabirdChat in order to get as large an audience as possible.


Teaching or sharing your skills and insights is incredibly rewarding in itself and should maybe be the main reason to tweet in the first place. But there are indications that being on social media can have professional benefits too. Although “academic virtual networking” has still not been extensively studied, there is some evidence that an articles’ performance on twitter can influence its citation rate. Having a lively and engaging online community of seabird researchers can therefore benefit all of us collectively.


One thing that is important, is that #SeabirdChat happens regularly - once every month at least. If we get many sign ups, we can potentially increase it to a bi-monthly event, but in the start-up phase, we aim to have #SeabirdChat every first Thursday of the month. These can be seen as the “primary” events, but it would be worth keeping an eye out for the hashtag throughout the week, as it could suitably be used for sharing with the seabird research community. If we manage to fill up the schedule, we may consider increasing the frequency of #SeabirdChat sessions, and if you want to organise a session which may be time-critical, we could organise these as #SeabirdChat extras.

We allow the chairs a choice between 3 different “UTC time zones” that suits the chair and appropriate participants and audience the best. The largest twitter audiences are in the Americas and Europe, so no matter where and when the #seabirdchat happens, it is advisable to time it so that it fits with local + one of these mentioned areas (Am/Eu).

#SeabirdChat extras

Primary scheduled #SeabirdChat session will be 1st Thursday of month. If you have something time-critical and would like to chair a session on any of the other Thursdays, then select this in the form. These may require a bit more from the chairs, as they aren’t scheduled in advance.


The format can vary, but there should be at least one “invited speaker” in addition to the chair for a session. For the research topic discussions, it would be suitable to have at least 2 “invited speakers”, but generally the more people you get to commit as “speakers” the more likely it is to create a buzz. If you think of chairing a tutorial, it would still be worth reaching out to a group of people to make sure there is interest.

Below we have a few format options:

Research topic discussion. You might have some generic questions on the topic you work on and a chat among colleagues could be very stimulating.

Tutorial style chat. Is there a new r package that would come in handy to others? Or is there a better way to sample some tissue? This could potentially be done solo.

Journal club chat. Is there a new review paper out that you would like to review or discuss along with some researchers?

Publication interview. Is there a recent publication that has made it into the news? Why not get one of the authors on for a chat about the publication

Career chat. For a chat with a senior researcher it could be a good opportunity to ask questions both relating to career path and research.

Upcoming #SeabirdChat session examples:

Journal club discussion “Quantifying ingested debris in marine megafauna”. Chaired by @Sjurdur - The research into marine debris ingestion so far, is halted by lack of standardisation. We will discuss some of the key points of a recent review paper with some of the authors, and also ask where the known unknowns of seabird marine debris are.

Tutorial style chat: “Analysing seabird geolocator data”. Chaired by @ThomasEvans – Though light-level geolocators have now been used over 20 years on seabirds a standard for the analysis of this data has yet to emerge. We will discuss with the aid of some experts what are the best current methods to analyse this data, how to obtain positions and how to derive core-areas.

Sign up here

If you would like to chair a session, here is the link to the sign up form: Google form

Get in touch

If you have any thoughts or comments on this, please don’t hesitate to comment below, or get in touch with us directly on twitter:

Sjurdur Hammer (@sjurdur), Nina O’Hanlon (@Nina_OHanlon), Miguel McMinn (@MiguelMcMinn), Aonghais Cook (@AonghaisC), Stephanie Avery-Gomm (@saverygo), Tom Evans (@ThomasEvans)