6 February 2017

Promote your research on the web

Posted by Shane Hanlon

By Evan B. Goldstein

Many online platforms enable scientists to communicate with a broad audience about current research. But how much primary research from AGU appears beyond the published page? Amid recent calls for scientists to engage in social media, my hope is that by examining this question I will inspire you to use social media and other online platforms to broadcast and explain noteworthy science to the public.

Here I look at articles from Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) mentioned on seven platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Reddit, Wikipedia, Stack Exchange and YouTube. I focus on GRL because of high publication rates (>1000 papers per year) and a criterion for manuscript publication is “broad and immediate implications in their discipline or across the geosciences”. GRL article records are obtained from the Web of Science, while mentions on the seven platforms are retrieved from Altmetric, a company that aggregates web mentions across multiple platforms. Altmetric provides a small button on AGU journal article homepages — clicking on the button allows readers to view mentions on many venues:

Altmetric button.

For this project, data on GRL articles from Altmetric was retrieved in bulk by using a package (rAltmetric) written in the R programming language by the scientists of rOpenSci.

The percent of articles published by GRL in a given year with at least one mentioned (for a given service) for 2010-2015 is plotted below. Data from Altmetric might not capture all mentions, so these numbers represent a minimum:

% GRL articles w/ at least one mention per service.

  • >90% of GRL articles from 2015 are mentioned on Twitter (some from ‘bots’, such as this one).
  • 10-20% of GRL papers are mentioned on Facebook
  • GRL papers are barely mentioned on all other platforms.

I believe that we can do more to get our research seen by the public on a diverse range of sites. It can be as simple as writing plain-language abstracts and posting on relevant platforms. In addition to many others, I have written about the benefits of editing Wikipedia. Others have noted the importance of Reddit AMA sessions, including AGU and a previous AMA participant. I encourage you to get relevant science onto these venues — Bik and Goldstein (2013) provide a helpful introduction for those new to the intersection of social media and science.

Photo Credit: Emily M. Janke

-Evan B. Goldstein is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Geological Sciences at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Find him at [email protected], @ebgoldstein, and on his blog.