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AbstractAcademic articles are now frequently tweeted and so Twitter seems to be a useful tool for scholars to use to help keep up with publications and discussions in their fields. Perhaps as a result of this, tweet counts are increasingly used by digital libraries and journal websites as indicators of an article's interest or impact. Nevertheless, it is not known whether tweets are typically positive, neutral or critical, or how articles are normally tweeted. These are problems for those wishing to tweet articles effectively and for those wishing to know whether tweet counts in digital libraries should be taken seriously. In response, a pilot study content analysis was conducted of 270 tweets linking to articles in four journals, four digital libraries and two DOI URLs, collected over a period of eight months in 2012. The vast majority of the tweets echoed an article title (42%) or a brief summary (41%). One reason for summarising an article seemed to be to translate it for a general audience. Few tweets explicitly praised an article and none were critical. Most tweets did not directly refer to the article author, but some did and others were clearly self-citations. In summary, tweets containing links to scholarly articles generally provide little more than publicity, and so whilst tweet counts may provide evidence of the popularity of an article, the contents of the tweets themselves are unlikely to give deep insights into scientists' reactions to publications, except perhaps in special cases.
CitationThelwall, M., Tsou, A., Weingart, S., Haustein, S. (2013) Tweeting links to academic articles. Cybermetrics, 17(1)
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