Social Impact

Altmetrics and Societal Impact

Altmetrics and Societal Impact

What is the societal impact of scholarly research?

As the communication of research increasingly takes place on social media and other online platforms, there is enormous potential to capture and analyze digital traces left by scholars. This offers, for the first time, the opportunity to study at large scale—using both quantitative and qualitative methods—the processes of knowledge dissemination and co-creation between academia and the public.

Taking advantage of this opportunity, this project uses a variety of innovative new approaches to explore the societal impact of research. Drawing on data from a diverse array of digital platforms, we are investigating questions such as: Who shares academic work on social media? What can Altmetrics tell us about the public's use of research? How might scholars use this knowledge to inform their dissemination strategies? And what information is missing from the picture?

Related Publications

Alperin, J. P., Stranack, K., & Garnett, A. (2016). On the peripheries of scholarly infrastructure: A look at the journals using Open Journal Systems. Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Science and Technology Indicators. 21st International Conference on Science and Technology Indicators, Valencia, Spain. Download
Alperin, J. P., Hanson, E. W., Shores, K., & Haustein, S. (2017). Twitter bot surveys: a discrete choice experiment to increase response rates. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Social Media & Society, 1–4.
Toupin, R., & Haustein, S. (2018). A climate of sharing: Who are the users engaging with climate research on Twitter? Altmetrics18 Workshop, 5th Altmetrics Conference, London, UK.
Didegah, F., & Thelwall, M. (2018). Co-saved, co-tweeted, and co-cited networks. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 69(8).
Zahedi, Z., & Haustein, S. (2018). On the relationships between bibliographic characteristics of scientific documents and citation and Mendeley readership counts: A large-scale analysis of Web of Science publications. Journal of Informetrics, 12(1), 191–202.
Barata, G., Shores, K., & Alperin, J. P. (2018). Local chatter or international buzz? Language differences on posts about Zika research on Twitter and Facebook. PLOS ONE, 13(1), e0190482. Download
Barata, G., Araujo, R. F., Alperin, J. P., & Rodríguez, C. T. (2018). O uso de mídias sociais por acadêmicos Brasileiros. Encontro Brasileiro de Bibliometria e Cientometria, 209–217.
Enkhbayar, A., & Alperin, J. P. (2018). Challenges of capturing engagement on Facebook for Altmetrics. STI 2018 Conference Proceedings, 1460–1469.
Didegah, F., Ghaseminik, Z., & Alperin, J. P. (2018). Using a diabetes discussion forum and Wikipedia to detect the alignment of public interests and the research literature. BioRxiv. Download
Haustein, S. (2019). Scholarly Twitter metrics. In W. Glänzel, H. F. Moed, U. Schmoch, & M. Thelwall (Eds.), Springer Handbook of Science and Technology Indicators (pp. 729–760). Springer International Publishing. Download
Barata, G. (2019). More relevant alternative metrics for Latin America. Transinformação, 31, e190031. Download
Costas, R., Zahedi, Z., & Alperin, J. P. (2019). Global country-level patterns of Mendeley readership performance compared to citation performance: Does Mendeley provide a different picture on the impact of scientific publications across countries? ISSI Conference, Rome, Italy.
Alperin, J. P., Gomez, C. J., & Haustein, S. (2019). Identifying diffusion patterns of research articles on Twitter: A case study of online engagement with open access articles. Public Understanding of Science, 28(1), 2–18.
Maggio, L. A., Ratcliff, C. L., Krakow, M., Moorhead, L. L., Enkhbayar, A., & Alperin, J. P. (2019). Making headlines: An analysis of US government-funded cancer research mentioned in online media. BMJ Open, 9(2), e025783. Download
Didegah, A., Didegah, F., & Dehdarirad, T. (2019, September 2). Social media visibility of open access versus non-open access articles: A case study of Life Sciences & Biomedicine. ISSI Conference, Rome, Italy.
Rode, S. D. M., & Barata, G. (2019). Ciência brasileira: Impactos para muito além do Fator de Impacto. Revista Pesquisa Em Fisioterapia, 9(4), 444.
Matthias, L., Fleerackers, A., & Alperin, J. P. (2020). Framing science: How opioid research is presented in online news media. Frontiers in Communication, 5(64). Download
Moscrop, D., Wong, L., & Alperin, J. P. (2020). Have you seen this? Why political pundits share scholarly research on social media. Scholarly and Research Communication, 11(1), 21. Download
Enkhbayar, A., Haustein, S., Barata, G., & Alperin, J. P. (2020). How much research shared on Facebook happens outside of public pages and groups? A comparison of public and private online activity around PLOS ONE papers. Quantitative Science Studies, 1(2), 749–770. Download
Barata, G., & Manica, D. (2020, November 6). Stem-cells from menstrual blood in Twitter: Paper attention on social media. The 2020 Altmetrics Workshop: The Future is Now, Virtual. Download Download
De Oliveira, T. M., Barata, G., & Uribe-Tirado, A. (2021). Ten years of Altmetrics: a review of Latin America contributions. Journal of Scientometric Research, 10(1s), s102–s114.
Rozemblum, C., Alperin, J. P., & Unzurrunzaga, C. (2021). Las limitaciones de Scopus como fuente de indicadores: Buscando una visibilidad integral para revistas argentinas en ciencias sociales. e-Ciencias de la Información, 11(2). Download
Maggio, L. A., Haustein, S., Costello, J. A., Driessen, E. W., & Artino Jr, A. R. (2022). Joining the meta-research movement: A bibliometric case study of the journal Perspectives on Medical Education. Perspectives on Medical Education, 11(3), 127–136. Download
Alperin, J. P., Fleerackers, A., Riedlinger, M., & Haustein, S. (2023). Second-order citations in altmetrics: a case study analyzing the audiences of COVID-19 research in the news and on social media. bioRxiv. Download

Societal Impact and Social Media (SSHRC)

Societal Impact and Social Media (SSHRC)

What is the nature and extent of societal impact of research that we can observe through the public’s engagement on social media?

Are the Public’s Concerns about Diabetes Addressed in the Research Literature?

Fereshteh Didegah, Zahra Ghasseminik, and Juan Pablo Alperin

Diabetes is a growing public health problem, with more than 400 million people affected worldwide. As rates continue to rise throughout the population, more and more researchers are turning their attention toward the disease. Yet despite these efforts, surprisingly little is known about the impact of their research on the general public. Do the interests of today’s scholars reflect the actual concerns of the people living with diabetes? Are their findings connecting with those who stand to benefit from them?

This study aims to uncover the areas of public interest and needs, as seen in online platforms, and their relationship to the published research. Using topic modeling, we investigate to what extent the language used on a popular diabetes forum aligns with the language used in published research articles and on Wikipedia pages about diabetes. By analyzing the degree of alignment—or misalignment—between scholarly research interests and public discussions, we aim to uncover the key understudied areas that are of high interest to the public, providing the scientific community and health policy makers with a better understanding of the issues that truly matter to those affected by the disease.

Identifying Diffusion Patterns of Research Articles on Twitter

Juan Pablo Alperin, Stefanie Haustein

How does knowledge spread in the age of social media? What can these platforms tell us about the reach of scholarship among members of the general public?  

In the current study, we are examining dissemination patterns of academic research papers on Twitter—one of the most popular platforms for sharing scholarly outputs with the public. To do so, we explore a new method that involves identifying open access articles that are frequently shared, then analyzing the follower network of users who tweeted each article. 

By understanding how knowledge diffuses on this platform, we aim to start a wider dialogue among Public Understanding of Science researchers about the impact of scholarly work among members of the general public. Our hope is that the proposed approach and indicators can serve those interested in the public understanding of science, science communication, or research evaluation to identify when research diffuses beyond insular communities. 

Related Publications