We're all in this together: Academic Twitter shows solidarity while dealing with COVID-19

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We're all in this together: Academic Twitter shows solidarity while dealing with COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the academic community in various ways. Universities have been shut, hiring suspended, conferences cancelled – the list is long. These changes have affected researchers directly, with many struggling to deal with the academic and professional fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past weeks, several academics have turned to Twitter to express themselves and reach out to others in the same situation. The result? Academic Twitter has been abuzz with conversations, stories, discussions, debates, personal experiences, memes, or humor about how COVID-19 has affected them. What stands out is how the academic community has come together on this platform to offer much-needed words of encouragement and offer support to those who are feeling low and need some motivation. It is almost as though there is a tsunami of positivity from academics on Twitter which is helping bolster many people’s spirits during this difficult time. I thought of putting together a bunch of these positive tweets to indicate the solidarity among researchers on Twitter.

While some researchers try to look at this pandemic as a good chance to catch up on reading or writing, others have found it difficult to concentrate on their work. Many twitter users are urging researchers to not beat themselves up over lower levels of productivity. For example, take a look at Exhausted PhD's gif about the slow progress on their thesis and Grad Write Slack's assurance that sometimes even a little progress is good enough.



Publishing is an important aspect of academia. This is a trying time for all involved in the publication process. In the case of Dr. Parul Jain, a peer reviewer and Associate Professor at Ohio University, the journal she is working with extended her review deadline, giving her some much needed respite. 


Ivan Santiago offers some much needed perspective – think about your priorities right now. They should be health and safety over and above everything else. If you are healthy and safe right now, you are already productive. 


PhD candidate Kritika Gupta’s tweet is a sharp reminder that the current situation is a crisis, not a productivity contest. 


Another PhD student, Prathyush criticizes the tendency of some academics to indulge in productivity shaming. Instead, he emphasizes the need to practise empathy and kindness especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Of course, you cannot be kind to others without being kind to yourself. Mindful Academics and Open Academics encourage people to be kind to themselves and others, given how challenging the current situation is. 



Social isolation can take a toll on you. It has has been known to exacerbate depression and anxiety. The #AcademicTwitter feed has a lot of tips on supporting yourself and those around you. For example, here’s a tweet by Mindful Academics that recommends that you get a quarantine buddy who you could regularly check in on and build a resilience plan together with, to get through the pandemic together.


In this thread, mental health advocate Fay Lin cautions against using specific words or phrases while discussing our research and other academic or career related topics. As she puts it in this thread, “HOW we say things matter and makes a HUGE difference to our #mentalhealth.”



Many senior researchers are reminding their colleagues to take time out to check on their students and junior colleagues. Sirry Alang, a mental health activist and scholar, encourages us to look out for students and other vulnerable people. She also stresses the negative effects of isolation and anxiety on mental health.


Ajay, encourages professors to give their students the benefit of the doubt when it came to assignments. 


International PhD students and early-career researchers are facing a particularly hard time as they are often away from family and loved ones. Professor Andrew R. Timming highlights the emotional vulnerability that many junior researchers deal with. 


Principal Investigators (PIs) play an important role in researchers’ lives. Cait S. Kirby, a PhD candidate from Vanderbilt University, urges PIs to take the lead and emphasize their students’ physical and mental health, while reassuring them that it is ok not be as productive as they were before the pandemic. 


Maya Camargo-Vemuri, a PhD candidate from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, congratulates those who have recently received their doctorate degree during the COVID 19 crisis. She thanks them for giving hope to the rest of the academic community.


Jen Heemstra, who heads the Heemstra lab at Emory University’s Department of Chemistry, encourages researchers whose career goals are unmet because of the current situation. Her message is simple and inspirational: while you may not be able to achieve your goals right now, you will achieve them in the future. 


Chris Cornthwaite, President and Research Director at Thinkhouse Canada, pointed out that while the pandemic could end many academic careers, it does not mean that researchers can't look forward to a bright future. 


Monica Malta’s tweet about her daughter who was forced to cancel her eight birthday due to being in quarantine serves as a reminder to focus on things that really matter to us. Responding to Monica’s tweet, scientists across Twitter sent birthday wishes and encouragement to this budding scientist. 


PhD Diaries also chooses to bring in some much-needed perspective to the conversations around COVID-19 - researchers are multi-faceted people with roles and interests that may have nothing to do with their career. It is good to remember that when you are facing stressful times. Your research output does not determine your worth as a human being. 


Wasn’t that motivating? Of course this list of tweets is not exhaustive, but it is indicative of how academics are going out of their way to support each other during this difficult time. Head on to Twitter to witness the solidarity and heartening discussions among researchers on this platform. 

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Published on: Apr 16, 2020

MA Media Studies, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication, Syracuse University
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