A Comparison of the Citing, Publishing, and Tweeting Activity of Scholars on Web of Science

  • Rodrigo CostasEmail author
  • Márcia R. Ferreira


Social media are computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the exchange of research outcomes and make them available to larger audiences and networks. As a result, researchers are gradually integrating these tools into their everyday workflow. This phenomenon has contributed to the development of alternative impact indicators or altmetrics. Most of the research in the area of altmetrics was focused on describing the relationship between social media indicators and bibliometric indicators. In 2016, Henk Moed argued that web-based indicators “do not have function merely in the evaluation of research performance of individuals and groups, but also in the research process”. This statement motivates us to go beyond the evaluative perspective of altmetrics to a more contextualized perspective in which the study of the citing, publishing, and tweeting activities of researchers on Web of Science is compared. Results show that, at the individual researcher level, Twitter-based indicators are empirically different from production-based and citation-based bibliometric indicators. The results of this chapter should be seen as a first step towards a conceptual shift from a mere study of the reception of publications on Twitter to a more dynamic perspective that focuses on the social media activities of researchers as part of their computerization of the scientific process. Future research directions based on the findings presented in this study are also suggested.



Rodrigo Costas was partially funded by the South African DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Scientometrics and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (SciSTIP). Márcia R. Ferreira was partially funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG under grant #857136. The authors thank Nicolás Robinson-García from TU Delft (NL) for his technical help with the cosine analysis and Philippe Mongeon for his critical comments and feedback on earlier drafts of this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST), Stellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa
  3. 3.Complexity Science Hub ViennaViennaAustria
  4. 4.TU Wien (Vienna University of Technology)ViennaAustria

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