, Volume 102, Issue 2, pp 1773–1779 | Cite as

The relationship between tweets, citations, and article views for PLOS ONE articles



An analysis of article-level metrics of 27,856 PLOS ONE articles reveals that the number of tweets was weakly associated with the number of citations (β = 0.10), and weakly negatively associated with citations when the number of article views was held constant (β = −0.06). The number of tweets was predictive of other social media activity (β = 0.34 for Mendeley and β = 0.41 for Facebook), but not of the number of article views on PubMed Central (β = 0.01). It is concluded that the scientific citation process acts relatively independently of the social dynamics on Twitter.


Altmetrics PLOS ONE Social media Twitter 

Supplementary material

11192_2014_1445_MOESM1_ESM.docx (23 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 22 kb)


  1. Beall, J. (2013). Article-level metrics: An ill-conceived and meretricious idea. Retrieved from
  2. Buela-Casal, G. (2014). Pathological publishing: A new psychological disorder with legal consequences? The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context, 6, 91–97. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpal.2014.06.005.
  3. Colquhoun, D., & Plested, A. (2014). Why you should ignore altmetrics and other bibliometric nightmares. Retrieved from:
  4. Costas, R., Zahedi, Z., & Wouters, P. (2014). Do altmetrics correlate with citations? Extensive comparison of altmetric indicators with citations from a multidisciplinary perspective.
  5. Darling, E. S., Shiffman, D., Côté, I. M., & Drew, J. A. (2013). The role of Twitter in the life cycle of a scientific publication. PeerJ PrePrints.Google Scholar
  6. Eysenbach, G. (2011). Can tweets predict citations? Metrics of social impact based on Twitter and correlation with traditional metrics of scientific impact. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 13. doi: 10.2196/jmir.2012.
  7. Fenner, M. (2014). Altmetrics and other novel measures for scientific impact. In Opening science (pp. 179–189). Berlin: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-00026-8_12.
  8. Haile, T. [arctictony]. (2014, February 2). We’ve found effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading [Tweet]. Retrieved from
  9. Haustein, S., Peters, I., Sugimoto, C. R., Thelwall, M., & Larivière, V. (2014). Tweeting biomedicine: An analysis of tweets and citations in the biomedical literature. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 65, 656–669. doi: 10.1002/asi.23101.
  10. Holmberg, K., & Thelwall, M. (2014). Disciplinary differences in Twitter scholarly communication. Scientometrics. doi: 10.1007/s11192-014-1229-3.
  11. Lin, J. (2012). A case study in anti-gaming mechanisms for altmetrics: PLOS ALMs and DataTrust. Retrieved from
  12. Liu, J. (2014). Interactions: January High Five (2014). Retrieved from
  13. Mandavilli A. (2011). Peer review: Trial by Twitter. Nature 469, 286–287. doi: 10.1038/469286a.
  14. Priem, J., Piwowar, H. A., & Hemminger, B. M. (2012). Altmetrics in the wild: Using social media to explore scholarly impact.
  15. Shuai, X., Pepe, A., & Bollen, J. (2012). How the scientific community reacts to newly submitted preprints: Article downloads, twitter mentions, and citations. PLOS ONE, 7, e47523. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047523.
  16. Taylor, M. (2013). Towards a common model of citation: Some thoughts on merging altmetrics and bibliometrics. Research Trends, 35, 19–22. Retrieved from
  17. Taylor, M., & Plume, A. (2014). Party papers or policy discussions: An examination of highly shared papers using altmetric data. Research Trends, 36, 17–20. Retrieved from
  18. Thelwall, M., Haustein, S., Larivière, V., & Sugimoto, C. R. (2013). Do altmetrics work? Twitter and ten other social web services. PLOS ONE, 8, e64841. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064841.
  19. Van Noorden, R. (2014). Online collaboration: Scientists and the social network. Nature, 512, 126–129. doi: 10.1038/512126a.
  20. Van Noorden, R. (December 21, 2012). What were the top papers of 2012 on social media? [blog post]. Nature News. Retrieved from
  21. Zahedi, Z., Costas, R., & Wouters, P. (2014a). How well developed are altmetrics? A cross-disciplinary analysis of the presence of ‘alternative metrics’ in scientific publications. Scientometrics. doi: 10.1007/s11192-014-1264-0.
  22. Zahedi, Z., Fenner, M., & Costas, R. (2014b). How consistent are altmetrics providers? Study of 1000 PLOS ONE publications using the PLOS ALM, Mendeley and APIs. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BioMechanical Engineering, Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials EngineeringDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations