Digital Traces in Context| From “Knowledge Brokers” to Opinion Makers: How Physical Presence Affected Scientists’ Twitter Use During the COP21 Climate Change Conference
Professional norms of science have played an important role in discouraging scientists from raising their voices in public. However, they are increasingly using social media to discuss and publicize their research. This study investigates the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference summit and examines scientists’ social media use by analyzing “digital traces” that scientists left on social media during the summit. Using geolocated tweets, we compare the Twitter use of scientists who attended the conference with those who did not. Combining automated, quantitative, and qualitative content analysis, the study shows how scientists participating in the conference provided live reporting and formed a transnational network. Scientists at the conference and elsewhere engaged in political advocacy, indicating a shift toward a new pattern of hybrid science communication, which includes characteristics that have formerly been attributed to journalism and advocacy.