Does Tweeting Improve Citations? One-Year Results From the TSSMN Prospective Randomized Trial


Background: The Thoracic Surgery Social Media Network (TSSMN) is a collaborative effort of leading journals in cardiothoracic surgery to highlight publications via social media. This study aims to evaluate the 1-year results of a prospective randomized social media trial to determine the effect of tweeting on subsequent citations and nontraditional bibliometrics.

Methods: A total of 112 representative original articles were randomized 1:1 to be tweeted via TSSMN or a control (non-tweeted) group. Measured endpoints included citations at 1 year compared with baseline, as well as article-level metrics (Altmetric score) and Twitter analytics. Independent predictors of citations were identified through univariable and multivariable regression analyses.

Results: When compared with control articles, tweeted articles achieved significantly greater increase in Altmetric scores (Tweeted 9.4 ± 5.8 vs Non-tweeted 1.0 ± 1.8, P < .001), Altmetric score percentiles relative to articles of similar age from each respective journal (Tweeted 76.0 ± 9.1 percentile vs Non-tweeted 13.8 ± 22.7 percentile, P < .001), with greater change in citations at 1 year (Tweeted +3.1 ± 2.4 vs Non-Tweeted +0.7 ± 1.3, P < .001). Multivariable analysis showed that independent predictors of citations were randomization to tweeting (odds ratio [OR] 9.50; 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.30-27.35, P < .001), Altmetric score (OR 1.32; 95% CI 1.15-1.50, P < .001), open-access status (OR 1.56; 95% CI 1.21-1.78, P < .001), and exposure to a larger number of Twitter followers as quantified by impressions (OR 1.30, 95% CI 1.10-1.49, P < .001).

Conclusions: One-year follow-up of this TSSMN prospective randomized trial importantly demonstrates that tweeting results in significantly more article citations over time, highlighting the durable scholarly impact of social media activity.

Read full text: Jessica G.Y. Luc, Michael A. Archer, Rakesh C. Arora, Edward M. Bender, Arie Blitz, David T. Cooke, Tamara Ni Hlci, Biniam Kidane, Maral Ouzounian, Thomas K. Varghese, Mara B. Antonoff, Does Tweeting Improve Citations? One-Year Results From the TSSMN Prospective Randomized Trial, The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, Volume 111, Issue 1, 2021, Pages 296-300,