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When Finnish Researchers Took On the Twitter Trolls


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On 5 September, Tapio Mtt, academic rector at the University of Eastern Finland, tweeted that it might be a good idea for individual researchers to write a very simple tweet explaining what they are researching, in just 140 characters.

Credit: Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto/Getty

In August 2021, a journalist in Finland criticized the value of certain research projects on Twitter. Others joined in, with a more hostile tone. Sami Syrjämäki, head of publications for the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies in Helsinki, which includes 282 societies and 4 academies of the arts and sciences, describes what happened next.

What was the background to the campaign?

A journalist at one of Finland's big media publishers tweeted critical comments about some research projects, saying, 'This is not science, it's ridiculous that these kinds of project are being financed by public money.'

A number of academics responded, hoping that others would read their replies and maybe learn more about research. But then, more journalists joined in on Twitter and on blogs, and their tone was not so nice. I was involved in these Twitter exchanges. We tried to explain how these projects are being evaluated. The discussion continued for a couple of weeks.

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