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Project boosts scientists’ use of Instagram

Many believe that scientists are serious and not very sociable. In an attempt to debunk this image, neuroscientist Samantha Yammine of the University of Toronto in Canada, and agricultural engineer Paige Jarreau of the University of Louisiana in the United States, launched a project to put a more human face on scientists using photos published on Instagram, a popular social network.

The idea behind Scientist Selfies! is that researchers post convivial photos of themselves in various scientific contexts in an effort to change the perception of science. Based on the experience, researchers post tips on how to use Instagram to disseminate their research.

Scientists say it is important to post original content to appeal to individuals who may not be interested in science topics. Creative photos in attractive environments, with a good description in the caption, draw more attention and give followers a better understanding of the information.

They also suggest publishing photos with people in them, even if they are not directly involved in the research, so that stories about research morph into stories about individuals as well. This increases the chances that the photo will be shared, and it also gives followers a better grasp of what a researcher’s day is like–in the laboratory and in the field. For more information, visit the official project profile: @scientistselfies.