By Chris Morley, PhD, Ben Miller, PsyD, and Mark Ryan, MD
Recently, there has been some discussion about whether the sharing of information presented during academic conferences via social media is appropriate, taking form in both peer-reviewed literature1–4 and in online blogs5 and social media, with a particular focus on Twitter.
Predictably, there are arguments presented against the sharing of material via social media that frequently center on the protection of copyrights, patents, intellectual property, or simply ideas-in-formation. Other arguments tend to fret over whether the sharing of a table, figure, or text, presented in a conference, may somehow represent prior publication that might interfere with the ability to later incorporate the same text into a formal journal publication. The crux of either argument tends to be that the presenter has shared information in one form, but that any sharing of that information beyond that context without the presenter’s express permission infringes upon intellectual property rights and/or future publication possibilities.
This antiquated view of information sharing is in need of disruption. Academia, of all, should learn a thing or two about the need to stay relevant in a day and age where people learn of their news from Twitter. It really puts things in perspective when one considers that most academicians wait 8–12 months (or longer!) for a peer-review process to be complete to allow them to share their findings. Conferences have long been one of the best ways to allow for academicians to share their findings with a broader audience while waiting on the laborious and lengthy peer-review process to complete.
However, should we take it as far as to tell people to not tweet what they hear or see at a conference?