Profile on Remi Toupin

By Madelaine Hare

QSS Lab is looking forward to welcoming Rémi Toupin back to Halifax this spring. Remi is starting two years at Dalhousie as a FRQSC postdoctoral fellow. Here we profile Remi, learn about his recently completed thesis, and find out what projects he will be working on at the lab!

Rémi, tell us about your doctoral thesis! What interested you in the subject and inspired you to dive deeper into this project?

For my thesis, I worked on the contexts of climate change research circulation on Twitter. Specifically, I aimed to better understand how altmetrics and traces left by scholarly documents on Twitter could be used to examine the public attention to scientific articles about climate change. I looked at this by focusing on who tweeted scientific articles, their interactions in terms of retweets and mentions, as well as their resonance to said articles, that is the way users eventually relate to scientific articles through their experience of the world.

I initially began my PhD because I wanted to do something that involved research about scientific communication and why it is so relevant. During my master’s degree in anthropology, I began to be involved in various initiatives to get a broader public interested in archaeological research… and why it was relevant to do archaeological research. This happened about at the same time as the 2012 Quebec student protests during I which I started to get more socially and politically involved, especially regarding environmental issues. I felt, and still believe, that reducing our footprint on nature is critical to leave the world a better place.

So, my thesis was initially on the use of social medias to communicate the scientific aspects of environmental issues… which is quite a big topic! Gradually, I started to increasingly focus on Twitter, mostly because it was heralded as a key environment for the communication of scholarly articles and the development of altmetrics. I also got more critical of social media and metrics in general and wanted to do something that focused on the more qualitative aspects of the public communication of research, specifically how does it relate to those that are involved in it.

What are the different research projects you are working on and what are you most looking forward to working on over the course of your postdoc?

I have a few projects already going on with QSSLab for my postdoc. As for the fellowship I obtain from the Fonds de recherche du Québec, I’ll work on the gap between scholarly and public attention to marine conservation research. The general goal is to measure which topics in marine conservation research get the most visibility across various indicators like citations, tweets, policy mentions and the news, and better understand why some topics get more or less public attention, specifically in relation to their importance in the scientific literature. We already did kind of a pilot project about the scholarly-public attention gap in shark research, but I’ll look to expand it to other topics.

I am also looking forward to work on various projects that involve scientific information and environmental issues. One such project involves helping with the bibliometric assessment of GESAMP (Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Protection) reports. I’ll also look to expand some of the work done during my thesis and how we can think differently about the societal impact of research.

What are you most looking forward to working in the QSS Lab and/or living in Halifax?

To meet the team! I had a lot of fun the last I came to Halifax and I’m looking forward to just be a part of the team at the QSSLab. Also, the fact that marine conservation and environmental information have are key research topics at Dal means I picked a great environment for my project. I hope to get involve in some science communication initiatives if I can.

Otherwise, my plan is to enjoy the city and its surroundings as best I can with the people at the QSSLab! Whether it’s exploring various coastal environments on the South Shore or Cape Breton – something I oddly didn’t really experience much before last year, although I have been fascinated by the ocean since my childhood – or enjoying the local culture and city life, I want to make the most of my life in Halifax for the next two years.