60-Second Science

Journal Article Tweets May Predict Citations

The number of times a paper gets tweeted in the first three days after it's published may predict how often it will be officially cited. Steve Mirsky reports

In science, citations are gold. A journal article that gets cited a lot is usually considered a valuable piece of work. Now comes a study claiming that the number of times a paper gets tweeted in the first three days after it's published is a decent predictor of how often it will eventually get cited. The study is in the Journal of Medical Internet Research and was done by the editor, Gunther Eysenbach, of the University of Toronto. ["Can Tweets Predict Citations? Metrics of Social Impact Based on Twitter and Correlation with Traditional Metrics of Scientific Impact"]

Eysenbach tracked more than 4200 tweets that cited 286 articles in his own journal. Three quarters of articles that got tweeted a lot (or, to use the study’s nomenclature, had a lot of tweetations) turned out to get a lot of citations. Only 7 percent of poorly tweeted pieces wound up highly cited. As the article notes: "Social media activity either increases citations or reflects the underlying qualities of the article that also predict citations." But I predict that young researchers who use social media to the chagrin of their administrators will cite this journal article. Or tweet about it.

Oh, I learned about this research on Twitter—thanks, @sciam blogger Jason Goldman, @jgold85

—Steve Mirsky

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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