Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Peer-review science is taking off on Twitter, but who is tweeting what and why?

09.12.2013
The most tweeted peer-reviewed articles published between 2010 and 2012, and the trends associated with their social media success, have been identified by Stefanie Haustein at the University of Montreal's School of Library and Information Science.

She and her colleagues from the US, UK and Germany took 1.4 million articles held in the PubMed and Web of Science databases and determined how many times they appeared on Twitter. "Being based on 1.4 million documents, this is the largest Twitter study of scholarly articles so far," Haustein said.

The top two were articles on the effect of radiation on humans, and the top 15 includes articles on acne in teenage athletes, penile fracture, and the links between physical activity and mortality rates. Number 12 was in fact an article on autism by Laurent Mottron, a professor at the University of Montreal. The findings were published in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST).

The study looked at tweets that were directly related to the peer-reviewed article in question. The tweets either contained a link directly to the article in a scientific database or contained highly specific bibliographic information that would enable anyone to find the study immediately (such as DOI or PMID numbers).

The analysis shows that a high number of tweets does not correspond to a high number of citations in peer-reviewed journals – a method of measuring impact that is generally accepted by the scientific community. As a result, the number one article on the list of researchers, dealing with an altered gene during radiation exposure, was tweeted 963 times but only received nine academic citations. An article on a similar topic, in the wake of the Fukushima explosion, had 30 citations compared to its 639 tweets. "The most popular scientific articles on Twitter stress health implications or have a humourous or surprising component. This suggests that articles having the broadest scientific impact do not have the widest distribution," Haustein said.

The study was supervised and co-authored by University of Montreal Professor Vincent Larivière, holder of the Canada Research Chair on the Transformation of Academic Communication. "For the time being, Twitter cannot be considered a good marker of scientific impact – but it could indicate a certain social impact. When we look at the top articles, many have a surprising or humourous character. Articles are often tweeted anecdotally," Larivière said.

The traditional way of calculating the impact of a scientific article is based on the number of citations it has received in other scientific articles – it reflects impact on the scholarly community of citing authors. Peer review ensures a certain level of quality. "In the case of social networks, anyone can mention an article to anyone, there is no quality control," Haustein said.

Nonetheless, even if two-thirds of the tweeted articles were mentioned only once, Twitter is increasingly used to disseminate scientific articles. Over the three years studied, there was an increase in the proportion of articles cited on the network, reaching 20.4% in 2012. And despite the general finding regarding the number of citations, many of the articles most mentioned on Twitter are from journals such as PNAS, Science, Nature, The Lancet, and New England Journal of Medicine. The journal that received the most tweets was Nature, with 13,430 mentions of 1,083 papers (42%).

The researchers point out that the recent evolution of social networks offers new prospects for scientific communication. "The fact that more and more articles are tweeted is good news because it helps scientific communication. Regardless of whether non-scientists are sending this information, it proves that science is an aspect of general culture," Larivière said. Barely 15% of university graduates in Quebec are active on Twitter. The researchers would like to question scientists' resistance to the social network as a tool for communications. "Considering the correlations revealed from our sample [...], we assume that the number of mentions on the Twitter network is not a good indicator of an article's impact. This could be due to many factors, including the fact that Twitter is not yet very popular among researchers and that the viability of Twitter as a tool for scientific communication remains underestimated," the authors wrote.

The Twitter Top 15 Peer-Reviewed Studies

1. Hess et al. (2011). Gain of chromosome band 7q11 in papillary thyroid carcinomas of young patients is associated with exposure to low-dose irradiation Hess is affiliated with German Research Center for Environmental Health.

2. Yasunari et al. (2011). Cesium-137 deposition and contamination of Japanese soils due to the Fukushima nuclear accident. Yasunari is affiliated with the Universities Space Research Association, Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research

3. Sparrow et al. (2011). Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips. Sparrow is is affiliated with Columbia University.

4. Onuma et al. (2011). Rebirth of a Dead Belousov–Zhabotinsky Oscillator. Onuma is affiliated with Mito Dai-ni Senior High School.

5. Silverberg (2012). Whey protein precipitating moderate to severe acne flares in 5 teenaged athletes. Silverberg is affiliated with St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center.

6. Wen et al. (2011). Minimum amount of physical activity for reduced mortality and extended life expectancy: a prospective cohort study. Wen is affiliated with National Health Research Institutes (Taiwan).

7. Kramer (2011). Penile Fracture Seems More Likely During Sex Under Stressful Situations. Kramer is affiliated with the University of Maryland School of Medicine

8. Newman & Feldman (2011). Copyright and Open Access at the Bedside. Newman and Feldman are affiliated with the University of California San Francisco and University of California Hastings College of the Law, respectively.

9. Reaves et al. (2012). Absence of Detectable Arsenate in DNA from Arsenate-Grown GFAJ-1 Cells. Reaves is affiliated with Princeton University.

10. Bravo et al. (2011). Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. Bravo is affiliated with University College Cork.

11. Park et al. (2012). Penetration of the Oral Mucosa by Parasite-Like Sperm Bags of Squid: A Case Report in a Korean Woman. Park is affiliated with the Kwandong University College of Medicine.

12. Mottron (2011). Changing perceptions: The power of autism. Mottron is affiliated with Université de Montréal.

13. Villeda et al. (2012). The ageing systemic milieu negatively regulates neurogenesis and cognitive function. Villeda is affiliated with Stanford University School of Medicine.

14. Merchant et al. (2011). Integrating Social Media into Emergency-Preparedness Efforts. Merchant is affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania.

15. Ho et al. (2011). A Low Carbohydrate, High Protein Diet Slows Tumor Growth and Prevents Cancer Initiation. Ho is affiliated with the BC Cancer Agency.

This document is a translation of a text originally produced in French. The University of Montreal is officially known as Université de Montréal. Isabella Peters of Heinrich Heine University, Dusseldorf (Germany), Cassidy R. Sugimoto of the University of Indiana Bloomington (United States), and Mike Thelwall of the University of Wolverhampton (United Kingdom) also contributed to this research. The following acknowledgement appeared in the article: This research was part of the international Digging into Data program (funded by AHRC/ESRC/JISC (UK), SSHRC (Canada), and the National Science Foundation (US; grant #1208804). Vincent Larivière acknowledges funding from the Canada Research Chair program.

William Raillant-Clark | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umontreal.ca

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht Arguments, Emotions, and News distribution in social media - Leibniz-WissenschaftsCampus Tübingen
04.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien

nachricht High Number of Science Enthusiasts in Switzerland
05.02.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>