The Democratization of Scientific Conferences: Twitter in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond

Curr Hematol Malig Rep. 2021 Apr;16(2):132-139. doi: 10.1007/s11899-021-00620-w. Epub 2021 Mar 31.


Purpose of review: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had profound impacts upon scientific discourse in our field, most prominently through the abrupt transition of malignant hematology conferences to all-digital formats. These virtual components will likely be incorporated into future iterations of these conferences even as in-person attendance is reincorporated. In this review, we discuss ways in which usage of the social networking platform Twitter has expanded in the past year during virtual conferences as a method to facilitate-and, in some ways, democratize-information flow and professional networking.

Recent findings: Emerging Twitter-based tools in malignant hematology include presenter-developed #tweetorials, conference-specific "poster walks," and disease-specific online journal clubs. Twitter is also increasingly being used for networking across institutional and international lines, allowing for conversations to continue year-round as a first step toward multicenter collaborations as well as in-person #tweetups at subsequent meetings. The ability of Twitter to enable uninterrupted information exchange has reinforced its central role in medical and scientific communication in a way that will certainly outlive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; Conferences; Disease-specific hashtags; Social media; Twitter.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research*
  • COVID-19*
  • Congresses as Topic*
  • Hematologic Neoplasms*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • International Cooperation
  • Mentors
  • Scholarly Communication*
  • Social Media*
  • Videoconferencing*