Q&A with Conservation Letters Social Media Editor Emma Ladouceur. Emma discusses her role as editor and offers advice to scientists who are new to social media.
Tell us about yourself.
I’ve been a SCB member since 2011 when I attended my first ICCB in Auckland and I was a Masters student at University of Queensland. I am primarily a vegetation and seed ecologist interested in applied practical research, systematic decision making, and solutions to solve the most pressing issues in conservation biology and restoration ecology. I’ve been living in the Italian alps for the last three years and I am just about to finish my PhD.
What made you become interested in conservation?
I was always curious about the way the world works, but I never excelled in the generalised courses of science & math when I was young, so instead pursued a career in geography-related topics: Urban & Regional Planning. I was always the ‘green sheep’ in that crowd and had a desire to understand the science side of environmental planning. I learned, that I am a practical learner, and the more practical my work got, the more I excelled. The more alarmed I became by the impact of poorly thought out development can have on the environment, the more interested I became in becoming formally trained in conservation biology & restoration ecology. And so, I backtracked and changed careers. At first I was self-conscious about my background, but the more scientists I meet, the more I realise a mixed background is common, and can be your strength. The role of positive mentorship has been paramount in realising my strengths.
What are you currently working on (professionally)?
I am working on prioritizing species selection in ecological restoration under typical project constraints, to maximise ecosystem function as a complimentary conservation action.
You are the social media editor for Conservation Letters. Tell us a little bit about your role.
One of the most important parts of my role is to spread the word that Conservation Letters is 100% Open Access, and presents cutting edge advances in the science and practice of conserving biological diversity and promoting human well-being that is highly practical and policy relevant. We want to attract a diverse audience of conservation scientists, but also the real world influencers: policy makers, practitioners, consultants, business owners, the public sector, knowledge industries, green industries, educators… to name a few. I want to build our audience development with these influencers, and have it be common knowledge among them, that they can use Conservation Letters as a tool to inform and inspire their work, and to connect them with the key experts in their shared field. In my eyes, this could have extraordinary results for expanding and maximising the real world impact of the science that our incredible authors have produced.
Do you have advice for scientists who are new to social media?
Have you noticed the Altmetric score at the top of your papers? If not, give it a click. It collects disparate information from online and summarises it for you to provide a single view or measure of the online activity surrounding your research content. Give some thought to the audience you want your research to reach and try to promote yourself with that audience in mind. Wiley now has a self-promotion toolkit for authors to use. Try reaching out to people like me. And finally, if you feel your research is not getting the attention it should, reach out to blogs or news outlets, and pitch a popular science piece that is understandable to the audience you seek. Platforms like The Conversation are great for that.
What do you see as the biggest challenge(s) in communicating science on social media? And how do you overcome this challenge?
Social media is about relationships; the connections we have with other users within a network. It allows us to connect with each other in a way we never have before; both an opportunity and a challenge. It is easier to connect with your obvious audience (scientists) than develop an audience of influencers. I think in the current environment of fake news vs facts, we as scientists, have the challenge to offer people real news, the truth, facts, straight from scientists mouths to expand our reach. The Facebook group, “March for Science” didn’t go dormant after the march, it has evolved into a concerned citizen science forum, where people ask for advice. I’ve started to see a real increase of teachers asking for scientists to speak to their classes in this group, and the ‘Skype a Scientist’ program has grown exponentially over the last year.
These communities are here, their presence, and the narrative that surrounds them, are calls to action. Someone will step up to these calls, and it’s up to us to be the ones taking action and speaking out. Helping these groups understand that they too can read, understand and use science is a big challenge. Conservation Letters is well positioned to be a journal that is both accessible and understandable to these groups, and thus to be a strong voice for conservation scientists. I am trying to connect new research with public awareness days (eg. International Rhino Day), and with the tertiary organisations and policy groups of direct interest to each paper we promote, to try to harness a further reach for each piece. It is an exciting time to stand up, speak up and reach out to form less conventional relationships. Taking non-conventional approaches to connect your work with these groups is well worth the effort, and can lead to new ideas and opportunities.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Follow us on Facebook at @Conservation Letters and on Twitter @ConLetters. I am personally on Twitter as @re_sprout and Instagram as @notthatkindofdr. I personally use conservation photography as a complimentary tool to reach out to a wider audience. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me! I would love to hear from you.