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The thematic orientation of publications mentioned on social media: Large-scale disciplinary comparison of social media metrics with citations

Rodrigo Costas (Center for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS). Leiden University, leiden, The Netherlands)
Zohreh Zahedi (Center for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS). Leiden University. Leiden, The Netherlands)
Paul Wouters (Center for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS). Leiden University. Leiden, The Netherlands)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 18 May 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the disciplinary orientation of scientific publications that were mentioned on different social media platforms, focussing on their differences and similarities with citation counts.

Design/methodology/approach

Social media metrics and readership counts, associated with 500,216 publications and their citation data from the Web of Science database, were collected from Altmetric.com and Mendeley. Results are presented through descriptive statistical analyses together with science maps generated with VOSviewer.

Findings

The results confirm Mendeley as the most prevalent social media source with similar characteristics to citations in their distribution across fields and their density in average values per publication. The humanities, natural sciences, and engineering disciplines have a much lower presence of social media metrics. Twitter has a stronger focus on general medicine and social sciences. Other sources (blog, Facebook, Google+, and news media mentions) are more prominent in regards to multidisciplinary journals.

Originality/value

This paper reinforces the relevance of Mendeley as a social media source for analytical purposes from a disciplinary perspective, being particularly relevant for the social sciences (together with Twitter). Key implications for the use of social media metrics on the evaluation of research performance (e.g. the concentration of some social media metrics, such as blogs, news items, etc., around multidisciplinary journals) are identified.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge the technical support by Henri de Winter and Erik van Wijk from CWTS in collecting all the altmetric data, Ludo Waltman and Nees Jan van Eck for their help in the understanding of the VOSviewer maps, and Euan Adie from Altmetric.com for his help in the collection and understanding of the data from the different altmetric sources. The authors also acknowledge the comments by the two anonymous referees and the editors of the journal.

Citation

Costas, R., Zahedi, Z. and Wouters, P. (2015), "The thematic orientation of publications mentioned on social media: Large-scale disciplinary comparison of social media metrics with citations", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 67 No. 3, pp. 260-288. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-12-2014-0173

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited