Twitter has been around since 2006 and currently has around 330 million active users (as of October 2020) making it one of the most popular social media platforms of our time. In comparison to other platforms, twitter is notable for its short and fast content distribution which enables its users to skim through a lot of content in a short amount of time. Over the years, it has become more and more attractive to scientists due to its interactive nature and a fast and cheap way to promote research. But there are other advantages as well, as HITS researcher and computational chemist Ariane Nunes-Alves has pointed out in her recent interview with the “Alumniportal Deutschland”. According to Ariane, a big motivation to join twitter as a researcher is to get in touch with other researchers – and also to find jobs. The platform enables researchers from all over the world to connect and interact with each other, which is is something even bigger live conferences cannot achieve in this way.
During 2020, a time when personal gatherings of researchers at conferences and workshops is simply not possible, twitter was also used to showcase poster sessions and research results that would have usually been presented in person. One example of this is the LatinXChem virtual conference co-organized by Ariane Nunes-Alves which was held in September exclusively on twitter. During the conference, the participating researchers used different hashtags to share their work and to be able to make their content accessible and searchable for everyone. Using twitter for the LatinXChem virtual conference enabled the community to not only share their work with each other, but also to make their contribution to the research world visible to a global audience. Further, this virtual, barrier-free conference format ensured that also people who usually could not travel to conferences were able to attend.
The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) was established in 2010 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science, with a focus on the processing, structuring, and analyzing of large amounts of complex data and the development of computational methods and software. The research fields range from molecular biology to astrophysics. The shareholders of HITS are the HITS-Stiftung, which is a subsidiary of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). HITS also cooperates with other universities and research institutes and with industrial partners. The base funding of HITS is provided by the HITS Stiftung with funds received from the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The primary external funding agencies are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the European Union.