About #RealTimeChem


2020 Edition

Last updated:  24th June 2020

Welcome! If you’re here, then hopefully you’re here to find out more about #RealTimeChem and how you can join in on the action.

What is #RealTimeChem?

#RealTimeChem is a hashtag for the chemistry community on Twitter.

It is a real-time record of chemistry around the world with thousands of members of the community sharing what they are working on at any given moment. Laboratory. Office. Conference. Out in the field. Everywhere.

#RealTimeChem is open to all.

This is a diverse and inclusive community. You can take part no matter who you are, no matter what branch of chemistry that you partake in or what stage of your chemistry adventure you are currently at .

#RealTimeChem operates 24/7. 

It exists to celebrate chemistry all over the world so it operates all the time. You can find chemistry all day and night on Twitter.

#RealTimeChem is about real chemists.

As a public forum Twitter can be a powerful tool to give insight into the science that chemists do each day as well as the people conducting that science.

So what’s being tweeted? Here’s some examples:

#RealTimeChem’s mission.

Connecting Chemists

We are all spending an increasing amount of time online, so why not spend a little of it connecting with others in your field? The online world and Chemistry itself can sometimes feel a little isolating (I felt that way during my PhD for instance) so this is a chance to be join in and feel part of the wider community. All types of chemist at any level are welcome, from students to teachers, from post-docs to old time Professors. You never know who you might connect with by sharing your chemistry via #RealTimeChem. 

Sharing & Discussing Chemistry.

This is your chemistry, your ideas, your expertise….Your best chemistry jokes. Anything relating to chemistry can be united under the #RealTimeChem banner. Need help with something, why not ask the community? If you’ve shared your chemistry, why not discover someone else’s? If something interests you, spark up a discussion. You never know where it might lead.

Enjoying Chemistry.

We all love chemistry, that’s a fact. #RealTimeChem is another way to show what chemistry means to you every day. So have fun with it, be playful, have a laugh.

What’s the point? 

This is a community driven project, so the point is whatever you want it to be. There are plenty of studies that have looked at altmetrics and also social media as networking tools and the general consensus is that they are useful when utilized correctly. Some of those studies also claim their are hardly any chemists on Twitter, which is a bunch of old baloney, but I digress.

Twitter, to many, is a blatant waste of time, but there is no denying that it can be a powerful networking tool. It has, like Facebook, changed the way we receive news and the way we interact. Whole countries can be run via it, apparently (and badly, by all accounts. Take home message: don’t try to run a country from Twitter.)

Twitter is great for instant reactions (pun intended?), far more so than any traditional chemistry networking. It only takes a few moments and you can tweet any time of the day or night.

Let’s be clear though, #RealTimeChem is not a replacement for other forms of networking such as visiting conferences (although you can do those on Twitter as well) However, it can be a useful alternative when you don’t have the time or funds to trek around the world. Plus filling your timeline with chemistry and not, well, the horrors of the current news cycle is always worthwhile, no?

How do I use #RealTimeChem?

As mentioned above, if you are a chemist (or a budding one) doing any type of chemistry and you want to share it with the rest of the world, then get yourself signed up to Twitter and tweet about it using the hashtag “#RealTimeChem” in the Tweet and you’ll find many others doing the same:

Join in however much you want. Don’t worry if you’re busy though – work commitments and getting our chemistry done must take priority over any shenanigans on Twitter and we wouldn’t want to be responsible for anyone getting into trouble.

At the time of writing in September 2019 there have been more than 60,000 tweets containing the #RealTimeChem hashtag and the @RealTimeChem account has over 13,100 followers.

If you want to find out what is up in the community then search for the #RealTimeChem hash tag in the Twitter search bar or you can also follow the @RealTimeChem account, which is run by me. I aim to retweet as much of the best chemistry I can find each day and it never fails to amaze me what the chemists of the world are up to.

What should I tweet?

Anything that involves chemistry counts – lab work, journal reading, writing papers, teaching, demonstrating, journal publications, field work, promoting your latest paper, instrumental work, baking cakes at home etc. It is entirely at your discretion so long as it’s got some link to chemistry and you use the hashtag.

Here’s some great examples from #RealTimeChem Week 2017:

These are only examples, all things that happen in your chemistry world can be tweeted using the hashtag, good or bad. I’m sure the former shall outweigh the latter, but if you are having problems, say with an experiment or finding a piece of literature then someone else might be able to help you out. Also if you see someone tweeting about something you find interesting, or you think you can help with then, please tweet back. Engagement is the name of the game.


Obviously, when it comes to what you can Tweet, there are limits. For instance, only take pictures of things you are allowed to show. We understand certain areas of chemistry are shrouded in secrecy, particularly in industry. Don’t tweet anything sensitive and always get permission first. If in doubt, don’t tweet it.

Equally, be nice to others. Just because you’re on the internet doesn’t mean you should forget your manners and be a huge jerk. 

Who runs #RealTimeChem?

That would be me. You can call me Dr. Jay. I can be found under @doctor_galactic on Twitter and also @RealTimeChem. I work as a publishing editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry. I have done so now for half a decade. I used to work as a post doctoral researcher at Imperial College in London and before that did a PhD in organic photochemistry at the University of Sussex. I’m also the father of a small toddler. You can, no doubt, see the bags under my eyes from where you are now.

Please note that while this project does not have any strict official affiliation with the RSC, although it and many other chemistry organisations have given the project significant support since it started. In return I will often support projects on Twitter run by the RSC (such as #RSCPoster), but I will also support projects by other publishers.

I curate #RealTimeChem by myself in my “spare time”. I don’t get paid a single penny and I do not have any sponsorship. Despite Twitter sending me endless emails about #RealTimeChem being a business (like 10,000,000,000 and counting), it really isn’t a commercial venture.

#RealTimeChem is a community driven by the chemists that use it. As long as people keep choosing to tweet with the hashtag, I will endeavour to keep the project running.

Some history – who invented #RealTimeChem?


Not me. The inventors of #RealTimeChem are @azmanam (who sadly hasn’t tweeted since 1st April 2016) and @JessTheChemist. One fateful day, the former decided to try and determine what was in Lemishine and tweeted the results using the hashtag. The hashtag itself was coined, by @JessTheChemist who produced a storify page to follow #RealTimeChem as it happened. I subsequently became involved in the hashtag by tweeting about experiments I was running in the laboratory whilst working as a post-doc at Imperial College.

Quite how the project morphed into its current form remains beyond my own comprehension, suffice to say once it started rolling it has kept on rolling and the rest is history, as the saying goes.

Since it’s inception (Brrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahmmmmmm) #RealTimeChem has been featured in Chemistry & Engineering News and a number of times in Nature Chemistry’s blog roll (here, here and here). The project has probably been best described by @carmendrahl, now back at C&EN, as “a virtual watercooler that enables chemists to swap stories, start discussions on journal papers or laboratory techniques and generally geek out over pictures of obscure pieces of glassware, vibrantly coloured compounds or pretty crystals. The sky is the limit (well you CAN go into space if you want to, but that’s just showing off).

Update: #RealTimeChem has also recently been featured in Nature again ( rdcu.be/bQRfr) thanks to Renée Webster and Maggie Hardy who covered the community as part of their excellent piece on “Finding the central science”.

Another great feature where #RealTimeChem gets a mention is in Dorea Reesers fabulous C&EN piece on “The Secret Silos of ChemTwitter” as researched by the brilliant Paulette Vincent-Ruz.

The fantastic C&EN article on #RealTimeChem
The now old, but fantastic C&EN article on #RealTimeChem

What is #RealTimeChem Week?

This is a yearly event to raise awareness of #RealTimeChem. Due to circumstances, there is no planned event for 2019, but a relaunch is planned for 2020.

#RealTimeChem Week is an annual weeklong event for #RealTimeChem, it’s aim is to encourage as many chemists in the Twitterverse to join in and tweet about their chemistry (as well as discussing other peoples) as possible. This year is the sixth annual #RealTimeChem Week – you can find various unkempt pages on the blog with information about year’s gone by.

Can I help to promote/support #RealTimeChem

Yes. Word of mouth is a really important when it comes to a grass roots community project like this one. I’m only one person and can only do so much so please pass the word about #RealTimeChem onto any chemists you know. The more chemists we get to tweet, the more interesting chemistry we get to see and enjoy!

Other #RealTimeChem fun

  • #RealTimeChem playlist – tunes to #RealTimeChem by – available now on Spotify – feel free to add new songs, but they should be chemistry themed!
  • Lists – the @RealTimeChem account has some lists of chemists available that you can follow. These are in the process of being updated, but can be found here.
  • If you are into “The Footie” then there is more #RealTimeChem fun in the form of the yearly #RealTimeChem Fantasy Premier League. At the time of writing the 2017/2018 season on going (I’m actually doing okay this year!). Join the league here: https://t.co/ITxVAZVawS 

But…I’ve still got questions! 

My, my you’re an inquisitive soul. If I have forgotten anything, or anything is unclear. Then sound off in the comments or contact me via Twitter or by email. I’ll do my best to answer you.

If you’d like to get involved in the project or #RealTimeChem Week, then please let me know, either on Twitter via @realtimechem or by sending an email to realtimechem@gmail.com.

Now… let’s #RealTimeChem.

-Doctor Galactic & The Lab Coat Cowboy-


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