May 23, 2022

Journal Article: “A Case Study Exploring Associations Between Popular Media Attention of Scientific Research and Scientific Citations”

The article linked to below was recently published by  PLOS One.


Case Study Exploring Associations Between Popular Media Attention of Scientific Research and Scientific Citations

Note: Affiliation of All Authors: Brigham Young University (BYU)

P. Sage Anderson
Aubrey R. Odom
Hunter M. Gray
Jordan B. Jones
William F. Christensen
Todd Hollingshead
Joseph G. Hadfield,
Alyssa Evans-Pickett
Megan Frost,
Christopher Wilson
Lance E. Davidson
Matthew K. Seeley


via arXiv
PLoS ONE 15(7): e0234912.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0234912


The association between mention of scientific research in popular media (e.g., the mainstream media or social media platforms) and scientific impact (e.g., citations) has yet to be fully explored. The purpose of this study was to clarify this relationship, while accounting for some other factors that likely influence scientific impact (e.g., the reputations of the scientists conducting the research and academic journal in which the research was published).

To accomplish this purpose, approximately 800 peer-reviewed articles describing original research were evaluated for scientific impact, popular media attention, and reputations of the scientists/authors and publication venue. A structural equation model was produced describing the relationship between non-scientific impact (popular media) and scientific impact (citations), while accounting for author/scientist and journal reputation.

The resulting model revealed a strong association between the amount of popular media attention given to a scientific research project and corresponding publication and the number of times that publication is cited in peer-reviewed scientific literature.

These results indicate that (1) peer-reviewed scientific publications receiving more attention in non-scientific media are more likely to be cited than scientific publications receiving less popular media attention, and (2) the non-scientific media is associated with the scientific agenda. These results may inform scientists who increasingly use popular media to inform the general public and scientists concerning their scientific work. These results might also inform administrators of higher education and research funding mechanisms, who base decisions partly on scientific impact.

Direct to Full Text Article

See Also: PLOS Article Summary: “Level of Media Coverage For Scientific Research Linked to Number of Citations”

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.