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Highly tweeted science articles: who tweets them? An analysis of Twitter user profile descriptions


  • Julia Vainio

    () (University of Turku)

  • Kim Holmberg

    () (University of Turku)


In this study we examined who tweeted academic articles that had at least one Finnish author or co-author affiliation and that had high altmetric counts on Twitter. In this investigation of national level altmetrics we chose the most tweeted scientific articles from four broad areas of science (Agricultural, Engineering and Technological Sciences; Medical and Health Sciences; Natural Sciences; Social Sciences and Humanities). By utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis, we studied the data using research techniques such as keyword categorization, co-word analysis and content analysis of user profile descriptions. Our results show that contrary to a random sample of Twitter users, users who tweet academic articles describe themselves more factually and by emphasizing their occupational expertise rather than personal interests. The more field-specific the articles were, the more research-related descriptions dominated in Twitter profile descriptions. We also found that scientific articles were tweeted to promote ideological views especially in instances where the article represented a topic that divides general opinion.

Suggested Citation

  • Julia Vainio & Kim Holmberg, 2017. "Highly tweeted science articles: who tweets them? An analysis of Twitter user profile descriptions," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 112(1), pages 345-366, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:scient:v:112:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11192-017-2368-0
    DOI: 10.1007/s11192-017-2368-0

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lutz Bornmann, 2016. "What do altmetrics counts mean? A plea for content analyses," Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 67(4), pages 1016-1017, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yu, Houqiang & Xu, Shenmeng & Xiao, Tingting, 2018. "Is there Lingua Franca in informal scientific communication? Evidence from language distribution of scientific tweets," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 605-617.
    2. Kim Holmberg & Juha Hedman & Timothy D. Bowman & Fereshteh Didegah & Mikael Laakso, 2020. "Do articles in open access journals have more frequent altmetric activity than articles in subscription-based journals? An investigation of the research output of Finnish universities," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 122(1), pages 645-659, January.
    3. Houcemeddine Turki & Mohamed Ali Hadj Taieb & Mohamed Ben Aouicha & Ajith Abraham, 2020. "Nature or Science: what Google Trends says," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 124(2), pages 1367-1385, August.
    4. Shenmeng Xu & Houqiang Yu & Bradley M. Hemminger & Xie Dong, 2018. "Who, what, why? An exploration of JoVE scientific video publications in tweets," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 117(2), pages 845-856, November.
    5. Houcemeddine Turki & Mohamed Ali Hadj Taieb & Mohamed Ben Aouicha & Ajith Abraham, 0. "Nature or Science: what Google Trends says," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 0, pages 1-19.
    6. Anwar Said & Timothy D. Bowman & Rabeeh Ayaz Abbasi & Naif Radi Aljohani & Saeed-Ul Hassan & Raheel Nawaz, 2019. "Mining network-level properties of Twitter altmetrics data," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 120(1), pages 217-235, July.
    7. Yu, Houqiang & Xiao, Tingting & Xu, Shenmeng & Wang, Yuefen, 2019. "Who posts scientific tweets? An investigation into the productivity, locations, and identities of scientific tweeters," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 841-855.
    8. Fei Shu & Wen Lou & Stefanie Haustein, 2018. "Can Twitter increase the visibility of Chinese publications?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 116(1), pages 505-519, July.
    9. Francois Schalkwyk & Jonathan Dudek & Rodrigo Costas, 0. "Communities of shared interests and cognitive bridges: the case of the anti-vaccination movement on Twitter," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 0, pages 1-18.
    10. Didegah, Fereshteh & Mejlgaard, Niels & Sørensen, Mads P., 2018. "Investigating the quality of interactions and public engagement around scientific papers on Twitter," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 960-971.


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