November 23, 2020

New Research Paper: “A Systematic Identification and Analysis of Scientists on Twitter”

The following paper was recently published by PLoS ONE.

Title

A Systematic Identification and Analysis of Scientists on Twitter

Authors

Qing Ke
Indiana University

Yong-Yeol Ahn
Indiana University

Cassidy R. Sugimoto
Indiana University

Source

PLoS ONE 12(4): e0175368
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0175368

Abstract

Metrics derived from Twitter and other social media—often referred to as altmetrics—are increasingly used to estimate the broader social impacts of scholarship. Such efforts, however, may produce highly misleading results, as the entities that participate in conversations about science on these platforms are largely unknown. For instance, if altmetric activities are generated mainly by scientists, does it really capture broader social impacts of science?

Here we present a systematic approach to identifying and analyzing scientists on Twitter. Our method can identify scientists across many disciplines, without relying on external bibliographic data, and be easily adapted to identify other stakeholder groups in science. We investigate the demographics, sharing behaviors, and interconnectivity of the identified scientists. We find that Twitter has been employed by scholars across the disciplinary spectrum, with an over-representation of social and computer and information scientists; under-representation of mathematical, physical, and life scientists; and a better representation of women compared to scholarly publishing.

Analysis of the sharing of URLs reveals a distinct imprint of scholarly sites, yet only a small fraction of shared URLs are science-related. We find an assortative mixing with respect to disciplines in the networks between scientists, suggesting the maintenance of disciplinary walls in social media. Our work contributes to the literature both methodologically and conceptually—we provide new methods for disambiguating and identifying particular actors on social media and describing the behaviors of scientists, thus providing foundational information for the construction and use of indicators on the basis of social media metrics.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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