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      A systematic identification and analysis of scientists on Twitter

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          Abstract

          Metrics derived from Twitter and other social media—often referred to as altmetrics—are increasingly used to estimate the broader social impacts of scholarship. Such efforts, however, may produce highly misleading results, as the entities that participate in conversations about science on these platforms are largely unknown. For instance, if altmetric activities are generated mainly by scientists, does it really capture broader social impacts of science? Here we present a systematic approach to identifying and analyzing scientists on Twitter. Our method can identify scientists across many disciplines, without relying on external bibliographic data, and be easily adapted to identify other stakeholder groups in science. We investigate the demographics, sharing behaviors, and interconnectivity of the identified scientists. We find that Twitter has been employed by scholars across the disciplinary spectrum, with an over-representation of social and computer and information scientists; under-representation of mathematical, physical, and life scientists; and a better representation of women compared to scholarly publishing. Analysis of the sharing of URLs reveals a distinct imprint of scholarly sites, yet only a small fraction of shared URLs are science-related. We find an assortative mixing with respect to disciplines in the networks between scientists, suggesting the maintenance of disciplinary walls in social media. Our work contributes to the literature both methodologically and conceptually—we provide new methods for disambiguating and identifying particular actors on social media and describing the behaviors of scientists, thus providing foundational information for the construction and use of indicators on the basis of social media metrics.

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          Most cited references 37

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          Mixing patterns in networks

           M. Newman (2002)
          We study assortative mixing in networks, the tendency for vertices in networks to be connected to other vertices that are like (or unlike) them in some way. We consider mixing according to discrete characteristics such as language or race in social networks and scalar characteristics such as age. As a special example of the latter we consider mixing according to vertex degree, i.e., according to the number of connections vertices have to other vertices: do gregarious people tend to associate with other gregarious people? We propose a number of measures of assortative mixing appropriate to the various mixing types, and apply them to a variety of real-world networks, showing that assortative mixing is a pervasive phenomenon found in many networks. We also propose several models of assortatively mixed networks, both analytic ones based on generating function methods, and numerical ones based on Monte Carlo graph generation techniques. We use these models to probe the properties of networks as their level of assortativity is varied. In the particular case of mixing by degree, we find strong variation with assortativity in the connectivity of the network and in the resilience of the network to the removal of vertices.
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            Can Tweets Predict Citations? Metrics of Social Impact Based on Twitter and Correlation with Traditional Metrics of Scientific Impact

            Background Citations in peer-reviewed articles and the impact factor are generally accepted measures of scientific impact. Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter, blogs or social bookmarking tools provide the possibility to construct innovative article-level or journal-level metrics to gauge impact and influence. However, the relationship of the these new metrics to traditional metrics such as citations is not known. Objective (1) To explore the feasibility of measuring social impact of and public attention to scholarly articles by analyzing buzz in social media, (2) to explore the dynamics, content, and timing of tweets relative to the publication of a scholarly article, and (3) to explore whether these metrics are sensitive and specific enough to predict highly cited articles. Methods Between July 2008 and November 2011, all tweets containing links to articles in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) were mined. For a subset of 1573 tweets about 55 articles published between issues 3/2009 and 2/2010, different metrics of social media impact were calculated and compared against subsequent citation data from Scopus and Google Scholar 17 to 29 months later. A heuristic to predict the top-cited articles in each issue through tweet metrics was validated. Results A total of 4208 tweets cited 286 distinct JMIR articles. The distribution of tweets over the first 30 days after article publication followed a power law (Zipf, Bradford, or Pareto distribution), with most tweets sent on the day when an article was published (1458/3318, 43.94% of all tweets in a 60-day period) or on the following day (528/3318, 15.9%), followed by a rapid decay. The Pearson correlations between tweetations and citations were moderate and statistically significant, with correlation coefficients ranging from .42 to .72 for the log-transformed Google Scholar citations, but were less clear for Scopus citations and rank correlations. A linear multivariate model with time and tweets as significant predictors (P < .001) could explain 27% of the variation of citations. Highly tweeted articles were 11 times more likely to be highly cited than less-tweeted articles (9/12 or 75% of highly tweeted article were highly cited, while only 3/43 or 7% of less-tweeted articles were highly cited; rate ratio 0.75/0.07 = 10.75, 95% confidence interval, 3.4–33.6). Top-cited articles can be predicted from top-tweeted articles with 93% specificity and 75% sensitivity. Conclusions Tweets can predict highly cited articles within the first 3 days of article publication. Social media activity either increases citations or reflects the underlying qualities of the article that also predict citations, but the true use of these metrics is to measure the distinct concept of social impact. Social impact measures based on tweets are proposed to complement traditional citation metrics. The proposed twimpact factor may be a useful and timely metric to measure uptake of research findings and to filter research findings resonating with the public in real time.
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              Mixing patterns in networks.

              We study assortative mixing in networks, the tendency for vertices in networks to be connected to other vertices that are like (or unlike) them in some way. We consider mixing according to discrete characteristics such as language or race in social networks and scalar characteristics such as age. As a special example of the latter we consider mixing according to vertex degree, i.e., according to the number of connections vertices have to other vertices: do gregarious people tend to associate with other gregarious people? We propose a number of measures of assortative mixing appropriate to the various mixing types, and apply them to a variety of real-world networks, showing that assortative mixing is a pervasive phenomenon found in many networks. We also propose several models of assortatively mixed networks, both analytic ones based on generating function methods, and numerical ones based on Monte Carlo graph generation techniques. We use these models to probe the properties of networks as their level of assortativity is varied. In the particular case of mixing by degree, we find strong variation with assortativity in the connectivity of the network and in the resilience of the network to the removal of vertices.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                2017
                11 April 2017
                : 12
                : 4
                Affiliations
                School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, United States of America
                Administrative Headquarter, GERMANY
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: YYA acknowledges support from Microsoft Research. This does not alter our adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

                • Conceptualization: QK.

                • Data curation: QK.

                • Formal analysis: QK YYA CRS.

                • Funding acquisition: YYA CRS.

                • Investigation: QK YYA CRS.

                • Methodology: QK YYA CRS.

                • Project administration: QK.

                • Resources: QK YYA CRS.

                • Software: QK.

                • Supervision: QK YYA CRS.

                • Validation: QK YYA CRS.

                • Visualization: QK YYA CRS.

                • Writing – original draft: QK CRS.

                • Writing – review & editing: QK YYA CRS.

                Article
                PONE-D-16-33269
                10.1371/journal.pone.0175368
                5388341
                28399145
                © 2017 Ke et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 6, Tables: 3, Pages: 17
                Product
                Funding
                Funded by: funder-id http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100006112, Microsoft Research;
                Award ID: Faculty Fellowship
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: funder-id http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100000879, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation;
                Award ID: G-2014-3-25
                Award Recipient :
                YYA acknowledges support from Microsoft Research. CRS is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant #G-2014-3-25. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Categories
                Research Article
                People and Places
                Population Groupings
                Professions
                Scientists
                Social Sciences
                Sociology
                Communications
                Social Communication
                Social Media
                Twitter
                Computer and Information Sciences
                Network Analysis
                Social Networks
                Social Media
                Twitter
                Social Sciences
                Sociology
                Social Networks
                Social Media
                Twitter
                Computer and Information Sciences
                Network Analysis
                Centrality
                People and Places
                Population Groupings
                Professions
                Research and Analysis Methods
                Research Assessment
                Altmetrics
                Social Sciences
                Sociology
                Communications
                Social Communication
                Social Media
                Computer and Information Sciences
                Network Analysis
                Social Networks
                Social Media
                Social Sciences
                Sociology
                Social Networks
                Social Media
                People and Places
                Population Groupings
                Professions
                Psychologists
                Computer and Information Sciences
                Network Analysis
                Social Networks
                Social Sciences
                Sociology
                Social Networks
                Custom metadata
                Raw data were collected via Twitter REST APIs ( https://dev.twitter.com/rest/public). They cannot be shared to comply with the Twitter terms of service.

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