Ask an Anatomist: Identifying Global Trends, Topics and Themes of Academic Anatomists Using Twitter

Madeleine J. Marsland, Michelle Lazarus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Social media (SoMe) is increasingly used in higher education (HE) to access knowledge and enable global communication. The SoMe platform TwitterVC is particularly beneficial to these contexts because it is readily accessible, easily searchable (via hashtags) and global. Given these advantages, the twitter platform @AskAnatomist was created to foster a global weekly tweet chat, where students and academics from can ask and address anatomy related
questions. The aim of this study was to identify themes arising in the early stages of the @AskAnatomy Twitter community to gain insights into current needs/key areas for academic anatomists, students, and other followers. A qualitative analysis of tweets including the hashtag #AnatQ, (the associated @AskAnatomist hashtag), was undertaken to achieve this aim. Thematic analysis revealed three core themes arising in the formative stages of the @AskAnatomist Twitter site: (i) anatomical education modalities; (ii) specific anatomy content; (iii) research motivations. These themes reveal controversies within the field of anatomical sciences, areas for potential education resource improvement and research, and that humor of anatomists. Though the original intent of the @AskAnatomist site was to engage the general public in anatomy content and knowledge, tweet analysis suggests that academic anatomists were the primary active “tweeters.” Interestingly, this analysis reveals that
the @AskAnatomist site progressed into a web-based community of practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-281
Number of pages12
JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • gross anatomy education
  • communities of practice
  • social media
  • Twitter
  • trends
  • themes

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