Promoting cardiovascular medicine articles on Twitter increases online visibility and citation rates, a new randomized study finds.
A study from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) found that actively tweeting cardiovascular articles in the handle @ESC_journals was associated with a 12% increase in citation rate at a median follow-up of 2.7 years.
The results confirm the “sentiment” of the medical community that is actively involved on Twitter, said Ricardo Ladeiras-Lopes, MD, PhD, Cardiovascular R&D Unit, Gaia Hospital Center, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, Portugal. lecoeur.org | Medscape Cardiology.
The findings “add to the growing importance of social media and especially Twitter for medical education and science dissemination,” he said.
The study was published online in the European journal of the heart.
The association between the dissemination of scientific articles on Twitter and online visibility remains “controversial” and, until now, the impact on citation rates had not been rigorously addressed for cardiovascular medicine journals in studies involving randomization, explained Ladeiras-Lopes.
In the ESC Journals Study, 695 articles published in ESC medical journals between March 2018 and May 2019 were randomly assigned (1:1) for promotion on Twitter or to a control group with no active tweet from ESC channels . One article was ultimately excluded for retraction.
For all articles combined, the median number of citations was 14 (IQR: 7 to 27) and the median Altmetric score (a weighted count of all “attention” search results received) was 15 (IQR: 4 to 31 ).
For research articles promoted on Twitter, the median number of citations was 15 (IQR: 8 to 27), the median Altmetric score was 24 (IQR: 13 to 41), and the median number of tweet users was 41 (IQR: 24 to 63).
For the articles in the control group, for which there was no active tweet, the median number of citations was 14 (IQR: 7 to 27), the median Altmetric score was 5 (IQR: 1 to 18) and the median number of user tweets was 6 (IQR: 1 to 20).
Articles promoted on Twitter were tweeted after a median of 29 days (IQR: 17-53 days) after posting online.
After a median follow of 994 days, promoting articles on Twitter was associated with a higher citation rate of 1.12 (95% CI: 1.08–1.15), regardless of article type. Altmetric score and number of users tweeting were positive predictors of number of citations.
The main benefits of promoting CV articles online include “wide dissemination, engagement and opportunity for peer-to-peer discussion (if not possible only at medical meetings), continuing medical education, live update of latest published evidence,” Ladeiras-Lopes said. lecoeur.org | Medscape Cardiology.
He said weaknesses in promoting research papers on Twitter include the potential for confusing discussions of findings or attacks directed at an author rather than a particular finding.
“All major cardiovascular journals have their own Twitter accounts and actively tweet their articles, generating very interesting online discussions and a unique learning opportunity for the cardiovascular healthcare community,” said Ladeiras-Lopes.
Offering perspective, Eldrin F. Lewis, MD, MPH, chair of the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Publications Committee, said that all AHA scientific journals “actively engage” with cardiology and the wider community on Twitter.
The results of the ESC study on Twitter’s impact on article viewability are “not surprising and consistent with our experience,” said Lewis, professor of medicine and chief of cardiovascular medicine at the University. of Stanford, California.
“Articles with Twitter posts from journals’ social media accounts regularly receive twice as much engagement as posts on other social media platforms (Facebook or Instagram) and are a major driver of traffic to articles”, he added.
Lewis said thousands of users rely on access to AHA journals through open access and subscription platforms individually and through their institutions.
“Social media is a valuable avenue for connecting readers to scientific discoveries, and it complements traditional ways of sharing and accessing research,” Lewis said.
The study had no specific funding. Ladeiras-Lopes and Lewis did not disclose any relevant financial relationship.
Eur Heart J. Published online April 7, 2022. Summary