A great deal has been written about the kind of commercial content that gets shared most voraciously on social media. In recent years there has been an equal amount of research going into that kind of thing, with studies into both the kind of content that gets shared, and the kinds of tweets that get shared.
Less well known is the social life of academic research papers. This may be because fewer of them are shared on social media or there’s generally less interest in academic vs commercial content. Nevertheless, a new paper aims to make up for lost ground.
The research, conducted between 2010 and 2012, saw over 1.4 million articles analysed to determine any trends in their social media footprint. Interestingly, it emerged that a high volume of shares on Twitter did not correspond to a high number of citations in peer-reviewed journals, so social networks were clearly valuing things very differently to the scientific community.
For instance, the most tweeted article, whilst being shared 963 times was only cited by other researchers nine times. Another article on a similar topic received over three times the number of citations, yet only 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,” the researchers said.
It does nevertheless seem to be slightly disjointed in that the most scientifically worthwhile papers are not getting a corresponding level of attention on social networks. Whether that’s the fault of academics not doing enough to promote their work via social media is open for debate, but the research did discover that social media is not a natural home for researchers, so there may be some legs to that notion.
If you’re interested btw, here are the most tweeted papers over the two year period covered in the research.
The Twitter Top 15 Peer-Reviewed Studies
- 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.
- 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
- Sparrow et al. (2011). Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips. Sparrow is is affiliated with Columbia University.
- Onuma et al. (2011). Rebirth of a Dead Belousov–Zhabotinsky Oscillator. Onuma is affiliated with Mito Dai-ni Senior High School.
- Silverberg (2012). Whey protein precipitating moderate to severe acne ?ares in 5 teenaged athletes. Silverberg is affiliated with St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center.
- 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).
- Kramer (2011). Penile Fracture Seems More Likely During Sex Under Stressful Situations. Kramer is affiliated with the University of Maryland School of Medicine
- 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.
- Reaves et al. (2012). Absence of Detectable Arsenate in DNA from Arsenate-Grown GFAJ-1 Cells. Reaves is affiliated with Princeton University.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mottron (2011). Changing perceptions: The power of autism. Mottron is affiliated with Université de Montréal.
- Villeda et al. (2012). The ageing systemic milieu negatively regulates neurogenesis and cognitive function. Villeda is affiliated with Stanford University School of Medicine.
- Merchant et al. (2011). Integrating Social Media into Emergency-Preparedness Efforts. Merchant is affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania.
- 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.