, Volume 109, Issue 2, pp 1353–1364 | Cite as

To be or not to be on Twitter, and its relationship with the tweeting and citation of research papers

  • José Luis Ortega


The objective of this paper is to understand the relationship between the diffusion and mention of research papers in Twitter according to whether their authors are members or not of that micro-blogging service. To that end, 4166 articles from 76 Twitter users and 124 from non-Twitter users were analysed. Data on Twitter mentions were extracted from PlumX Analytics, information on each Twitter user was taken from the own platform and citations were collected from Scopus public API. Results show that papers from Twitter users are 33 % more tweeted than documents of non-Twitter users. From Twitter users, the increase of followers produces 30 % more tweets. No differences were found between the citation impact (i.e. number of citations) of papers authored by Twitter users and non-Twitter users. However, the number of followers indirectly influences the citation impact. The main conclusion is that the participation on Twitter affects the dissemination of research papers, and in consequence, it indirectly favours the likelihood that academic outputs being cited.


Twitter Altmetrics PlumX Analytics Citation impact Research dissemination 


  1. Allen, H. G., Stanton, T. R., Di Pietro, F., & Moseley, G. L. (2013). Social media release increases dissemination of original articles in the clinical pain sciences. PLoS One, 8(7), e68914.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bar-Ilan, J., Haustein, S., Peters, I., Priem, J., Shema, H., & Terliesner, J. (2012). Beyond citations: Scholars’ visibility on the social web. arXiv preprint, arXiv:1205.5611.
  3. Barthel, S., Tönnies, S., Köhncke, B., Siehndel, P., & Balke, W. T. (2015). What does Twitter measure? Influence of diverse user groups in altmetrics. In Proceedings of the 15th ACM/IEEE-CE on joint conference on digital libraries (pp. 119–128). Knoxville, TN: ACM.Google Scholar
  4. Bowman, T. D. (2015). Differences in personal and professional tweets of scholars. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 67(3), 356–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Callaham, M., Wears, R. L., & Weber, E. (2002). Journal prestige, publication bias, and other characteristics associated with citation of published studies in peer-reviewed journals. Journal of the American Medical Association, 287(21), 2847–2850.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen, B. (2011). Is the backchannel enabled? Using twitter at academic conferences. In 2011 Annual meeting of American educational research association (pp. 1–13). New Orleans, LA: AERA.Google Scholar
  7. Costas, R., Zahedi, Z., & Wouters, P. (2015). Do “altmetrics” correlate with citations? Extensive comparison of altmetric indicators with citations from a multidisciplinary perspective. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 66(10), 2003–2019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Darling, E. S., Shiffman, D., Côté, I. M., & Drew, J. A. (2013). The role of Twitter in the life cycle of a scientific publication. arXiv preprint arXiv:1305.0435.
  9. De Winter, J. C. F. (2015). The relationship between tweets, citations, and article views for PLOS ONE articles. Scientometrics, 102(2), 1773–1779.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dietrich, J. P. (2008). Disentangling visibility and self-promotion bias in the arxiv: astro-ph positional citation effect. Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 120(869), 801.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ebner, M. (2013). The influence of Twitter on the academic environment. In B. Pătruţ, M. Pătrut, & C. Cmeciu (Eds.), Social media and the new academic environment: Pedagogical challenges (pp. 293–307). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ebrahim, N. A., Salehi, H., Embi, M. A., Tanha, F. H., Gholizadeh, H., & Motahar, S. M. (2014). Visibility and citation impact. International Education Studies, 7(4), 120–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 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(4), e123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gruzd, A. (2012). Discovery and visualization of scholarly information diffusion in twitter networks. In Workshop on mapping ideas: Discovering and information landscapes. San Diego, CA: San Diego State University.Google Scholar
  15. Harnad, S., & Brody, T. (2004). Comparing the impact of open access (OA) vs. non-OA articles in the same journals. D-lib Magazine, 10(6).
  16. Haustein, S., Costas, R., & Larivière, V. (2015). Characterizing social media metrics of scholarly papers: The effect of document properties and collaboration patterns. PLoS One, 10(3), e0120495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 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(4), 656–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Holmberg, K., Bowman, T. D., Haustein, S., & Peters, I. (2014). Astrophysicists’ conversational connections on Twitter. PLoS One, 9(8), e106086.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Holmberg, K., & Thelwall, M. (2014). Disciplinary differences in Twitter scholarly communication. Scientometrics, 101(2), 1027–1042.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Huberman, B. A., Romero, D. M., & Wu, F. (2008). Social networks that matter: Twitter under the microscope. Available at SSRN 1313405.Google Scholar
  21. Java, A., Song, X., Finin, T., & Tseng, B. (2007). Why we twitter: understanding microblogging usage and communities. In Proceedings of the 9th WebKDD and 1st SNA-KDD 2007 workshop on Web mining and social network analysis (pp. 56–65). New York, NY: ACM.Google Scholar
  22. Kim, H. M., Abels, E. G., & Yang, C. C. (2012). Who disseminates academic library information on Twitter? Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 49(1), 1–4.Google Scholar
  23. Kwak, H., Lee, C., Park, H., & Moon, S. (2010). What is Twitter, a social network or a news media? In Proceedings of the 19th international conference on world wide web (pp. 591–600). New York, NY: ACM.Google Scholar
  24. Lawrence, S. (2001). Online or invisible. Nature, 411(6837), 521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Letierce, J., Passant, A., Breslin, J. G., & Decker, S. (2010). Using Twitter during an academic conference: The# iswc2009 use-case. In Proceedings of the fourth international AAAI conference on weblogs and social media (pp. 279–282). Palo Alto, CA: AAAI.Google Scholar
  26. Maleki, A. (2014). Twitter users in science tweets linking to articles: The case of web of science articles with Iranian authors. In SIGMET workshop METRICS 2014. Seattle, WA: American Society for Information Science and Technology.Google Scholar
  27. Moed, H. F. (2007). The effect of “open access” on citation impact: An analysis of ArXiv’s condensed matter section. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(13), 2047–2054.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Murthy, D. (2013). Twitter: Social communication in the Twitter age. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  29. Priem, J., Piwowar, H. A., & Hemminger, B. M. (2012). Altmetrics in the wild: Using social media to explore scholarly impact. arXiv preprint arXiv:1203.4745.
  30. 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(11), e47523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Thelwall, M., Haustein, S., Larivière, V., & Sugimoto, C. R. (2013). Do altmetrics work? Twitter and ten other social web services. PLoS One, 8(5), e64841.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Weller, K., Dröge, E., & Puschmann, C. (2011). Citation analysis in Twitter: Approaches for defining and measuring information flows within tweets during scientific conferences. In MSM2011 1st workshop on making sense of microposts (pp. 1–12).Google Scholar
  33. Zahedi, Z., Costas, R., & Wouters, P. (2014). How well developed are altmetrics? A cross-disciplinary analysis of the presence of ‘alternative metrics’ in scientific publications. Scientometrics, 101(2), 1491–1513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cybermetrics LabCCHS-CSICMadridSpain

Personalised recommendations