Can apply to: Any scholarly product or event for which Twitter activity can be tracked with a URL, identifiable ID, hashtag, or handle.
Metric definition: Twitter is a social media and microblogging service. Twitter citations include posts, retweets, and likes (a heart icon), which saves said tweet to a personal list. Note that these metrics are distinct from Twitter mentions (research) in that they do not necessarily apply to tweets about journal articles or other research outputs.
Metric calculation: Counts are determined by the number of registered users that tweet, retweet, or like a post that references a trackable scholarly product or event. Depending on the metric data source, these analytics and Twitter event types may be parsed and presented in different ways.
Data sources: Registered Twitter users’ activity, user demographic information, and user network information, such as follower counts and handles.
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 a scholarly product or event on social media, especially within the first weeks of publication. 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.
Limitations: Tweet counts can be easily gained and there are differences in Twitter activity across disciplines. Like other metrics, a count of tweets does not reveal the kind of impact an article or other scholarly product had.
Inappropriate use cases: Twitter citation counts should not be used to imply a specific kind of impact, such as public engagement.
Available metric sources: Twitter.com and Twitter API for recent twitter activity; Altmetric, PlumX, and Impactstory for historical twitter activity data.
Transparency: The transparency of Twitter citation data 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.
Timeframe: Twitter was launched in March, 2006.