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Guidance for Medical Sciences Division’s staff and students who use or are planning to use social media to communicate professionally.

Updated: November 2014
Approval: MSD Communcations Network
Author: MSD Communication Network Working Group

All staff and students who use social media to communicate professionally should follow the University of Oxford social media guidelines.  You should also consult with your departmental communication representative and check if your department has its own specific policy/guidelines.  

Before you start

There are many different social media platforms, which offer a variety of ways to communicate and interact digitally and require substantially different levels of commitment. Before you start, it is helpful to consider why you want to use social media, investigate which platform is right for your particular circumstances and determine how much time you can commit to social media. The Social Media Strategy Template is designed to help you work through this process. We recommend that after you have completed the template, you discuss it with your departmental communications representative.

Best Practice

We encourage any individual or groups managing social media accounts affiliated with the University of Oxford’s Medical Sciences Division to consider the following best practices:

  • Before opening an account, seek approval from your Departmental Administrator/Head of Department/Head of Unit/Lab head etc.
  • Social media encourages conversation, debate and engagement, so plan how you will manage comments. State opinions, but only if you are qualified to do so, and beware of nuances that might be missed or misconstrued. Provide content that adds value, and as much as possible direct users back to university websites
  • Set up accounts under generic email addresses in order to ensure sustainability (when staff changes) and flexibility (to allow multiple users to access the account)
  • Refer to the University of Oxford Branding Toolkit to ensure that you are using logos correctly. Also check with funding bodies, charities etc. if you intend to use their logos
  • Unless you have a ‘closed’ or private account, social media is public and permanent. Think twice before you post, make sure your facts are accurate (and apologise if you get something wrong), respect the law, and make sure you have permission to use images, data, videos etc.
  • Make certain that your posts will not be construed as offensive
  • Remove/report offensive comments (e.g. racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments, comments that contain foul language or are libellous or defamatory)
  • Don’t post medical advice, confidential or embargoed information, or information containing personal details about staff, patients or donors without their permission. And be wary about using social media that appears to promote yourself or endorse commercial ventures
Social media should not replace normal university channels for dissemination of information. News/research of media interest should be directed to Tom Calver, Media Relations Manager, Public Affairs Directorate or your departmental communications representative.

These guidelines pertain to accounts affiliated with the University of Oxford’s Medical Science Division, and are not intended to stifle personal use of social media. However, we do recommend that you add a disclaimer on personal accounts (particularly if you are a recognised authority, and if you identify yourself with the Division), clearly stating that all opinions are you own.

Registering New Twitter accounts

Please register new Twitter accounts with @OxfordMedSci lists. Two lists, OxfordMedSci Depts. and Units, OxfordMedSci People, are currently maintained and tweets appearing on these lists are frequently retweeted by @OxfordMedSci.

Additional Resources