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Twitter Citation for Academic Writing

October 7, 2022

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for the love of twitter!

there is a hate / love / hate relationship with twitter and the people who inhabit its corner of the internet. i, for one, think it is one of the best cyber places on earth. sure, twitter is rife with shit and shit people. but when you successfully create your little corner, twitter can bring nothing but joy. black twitter (iykyk)! sunday night game of thrones unofficial but very official watch parties. the slap. whatever was going on with those try guys. the day kim kardashian came for taylor swift. the day ted cruz fled to Cancun (a personal favorite). the first time beyonce released an album in the middle of the night without notice!! these are all collectively the best twitter days ever! i joyfully spent (or wasted, depending on who you ask) hours scrolling laughing at the outlandish and hilarious tweets people bless us with.

we also know twitter has its dark corners and days. i mean, i did live through 2016-2020 ffs. i witnessed my academia friends and colleagues on the receiving ends of some real nasty shit. women especially get the brunt of shit on twitter. and then there is the impending doom or whatever is about to happen now that elon musk owns twitter. there are plenty of reasons not to be on twitter. i get it.

twitter is a silo

before we get into the good stuff, i would like to remind us all that we (that is, the Tweeters) exist in silo. for better or for worse, a lot of people are on twitter. but in context, not THAT many people are on twitter. i say this to say, twitter isn’t everything if its not your thing. but if you are one of the brave souls who are on twitter and want to promote your research, this post is for you!

Statistic: Most popular social networks worldwide as of January 2022, ranked by number of monthly active users (in millions) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

ok, now that is out of the way, i want to talk about how twitter can potentially benefit your citation scores.

how twitter may help with citations

there are a number of peer-reviewed studies on twitter and public engagement. this study found that sharing your research on twitter could improve your citation count. another study found a positive relationship between twitter activity and number of citations. a few papers found low to high correlations between twitter mentions and citations. this study found that tweets could predict highly cited articles within three days of publication. and for good measure (and balanced reporting), various studies have yielded inconclusive , weak, or no impact on research metrics related to twitter activity.

then there is this article (i could not find its peer-reviewed base, unsure if it exists) that found scholar h-indices increased in part due to their public engagement (e.g., talking with journalists, twitter mentions).

i love this blog post about a researcher (and public scholar) took her thoughts to tweets into a number of blog posts that eventually evolved into a peer-reviewed paper.

should you or shouldn’t you?

i don’t know about you, but there is a lot evidence suggesting you should be promoting your work on twitter, if you aren’t already doing so. a twitter presence can also jumpstart your journey to public scholarship. scholars also may rely on twitter to build influence and curate content!

twitter engagement does require additional effort and foundation on your part. you can’t just log-on and start tweeting your articles and assume you’ll get 100% engagement. honestly, that is what is for.

be intentional with your twitter usage and start with building the foundation. ensure you are following publics interested in your research topic(s), not just other academics and collaborators. this includes relevant public and private organizations, agencies, societies, journalists, etc. tweet for engagement, not just for sharing. tweet at and with people and organizations. tweet about interesting and relatable topics.

when you sharing your research, pull a quote, an interesting finding, a graph, something that people can respond to. posting your article and telling the reader to reach out with questions is not true engagement. you want them to interact with the work, so give them a reason to! and i’ll say this until i am blue in the face, refrain from tweeting a screen shot of the paper or the abstract. data visualizations, images, something more eye catching than more words! and don’t forget to include a link to the work.

if you find twitter to be a dumpster fire, then (re)consider those you follow. the mute button is there for a reason if you feel that unfollowing is a bridge too far. also, follow more funny people, academics who don’t take themselves too seriously (lol), twitter feeds dedicated to sharing photos or dogs and cats, darth, dolly parton. twitter runs on algorithms so do your part to shift yours to something light and fun with a splash of dark and depressing.

tl: dr

despite its issues, twitter man help increase your citation scores and counts, as research suggests. if you are already on twitter, promote your work in a meaningful way that engages your followers.

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Alicia Cintron, PhD

Research Public Communications Trainer & Coach + traveling Scholarpreneur

Welcome! Here you’ll find insight, musings, and thoughts about research, public engagement, communication, travel, and higher education. Have an idea for a topic for us to cover? Shoot us a note

Alicia Cintron, PhD

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