Twitter Mentions

Can apply to: Any scholarly product (e.g. journal article) shared on Twitter using a link

Metric definition:  Twitter mentions include posts and retweets that reference a trackable scholarly product.

Metric calculation:  Counts are determined by the number of registered users that tweet or retweet a post that links to a trackable scholarly product.  Depending on the metric data source, mentions may be parsed and presented in different ways. This information can include registered Twitter users’ activity, user demographic information, and user network information, such as follower counts and handles. Note that contrary to popular belief, research outputs do not have to be tweeted using DOI links (e.g. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41590-017-0014-x) in order to be tracked by altmetrics services–nearly all services now are able to identify tweeted scholarly outputs in other ways.

Data sources: Twitter

Appropriate use cases:  Twitter citation counts and contextual demographic and network information can be used to identify the sharing of and reach of information about research on social media, especially within the first weeks of publication (Priem & Costello, 2010).  Information about who is tweeting and the nature of the tweets is needed to demonstrate the kind and quality of engagement, such as uptake by a scientific audience or interest from a public audience (Thelwall & Kousha, 2015).

Limitations:  Tweet counts can be gamed and there are differences in Twitter use to discuss research across disciplines.  Like other metrics, a count of tweets does not reveal the kind of impact an article or other scholarly product had (Thelwall, Tsou, Weingart, Holmberg & Haustein, 2013).

Inappropriate use cases: Twitter citation counts should not be used as a direct measure for a specific kind of impact, such as public engagement.

Available metric sources:  Twitter.com and the Twitter API for recent Twitter activity; Altmetric, PlumX, Impactstory, and Crossref Event Data for historical Twitter activity.

Transparency:  The transparency of Twitter mentions depends on the source.  Some sources are completely auditable in that you can see counts, read all tweets, and access user demographic and network information.

Website: Twitter

Timeframe:  Twitter was launched in March 2006. Altmetric, PlumX, and Impactstory began tracking the service in earnest in 2011, meaning that a majority of Twitter data on those sites includes scholarly products created in 2011 and beyond.