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PeerJ. 2018 Apr 12;6:e4564. doi: 10.7717/peerj.4564. eCollection 2018.

Tweet success? Scientific communication correlates with increased citations in Ecology and Conservation.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID, United States of America.
Department of Biology, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.


Science communication is seen as critical for the disciplines of ecology and conservation, where research products are often used to shape policy and decision making. Scientists are increasing their online media communication, via social media and news. Such media engagement has been thought to influence or predict traditional metrics of scholarship, such as citation rates. Here, we measure the association between citation rates and the Altmetric Attention Score-an indicator of the amount and reach of the attention an article has received-along with other forms of bibliometric performance (year published, journal impact factor, and article type). We found that Attention Score was positively correlated with citation rates. However, in recent years, we detected increasing media exposure did not relate to the equivalent citations as in earlier years; signalling a diminishing return on investment. Citations correlated with journal impact factors up to ∼13, but then plateaued, demonstrating that maximizing citations does not require publishing in the highest-impact journals. We conclude that ecology and conservation researchers can increase exposure of their research through social media engagement and, simultaneously, enhance their performance under traditional measures of scholarly activity.


Altmetric; Enter a keyword; Science communication; Social media; Twitter

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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