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The Role of Social Media in Disseminating Plastic Surgery Research: The Relationship between Citations, Altmetrics and Article Characteristics

By Michael C Grant, Ryckie G Wade, Kai R Scott-Bridge

Posted 01 Sep 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.08.26.20182337

Background: Social media (SoMe) enables publishers and authors to disseminate content immediately and directly to interested end-users, on a global scale. Alternative metrics (altmetrics) are non-traditional bibliometrics which describe the exposure and impact of an article on freely available platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia and the news. Altmetrics are strongly associated with ultimate citation counts in various medical disciplines, except plastic surgery which represents the rational for this study. Methods: Altmetric explorer was used to extract altmetrics and citation rates for articles published during 2018 in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (PRS), the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, the Annals of Plastics Surgery and Plastic Surgery (also known as Chirurgie Plastique). Multivariable negative binomial regression was used to estimate the relationship between citations and predictors (presented as the incidence rate ratio, IRR with 95% confidence interval, CI). Results: Overall, 1215 plastic surgery articles were captured which were cited 3269 times. There was a strong and independent association between the number of mentions in SoMe and the number of times an article was cited (adjusted IRR 1.01 [95% CI 1.01, 1.1]), whereby each mention in SoMe (e.g. Tweets or Facebook posts) translated to one additional citation. Evidence synthesis articles (e.g. systematic reviews) were cited twice as often as other articles and again, the use of SoMe to advertise these outputs was independently associated with more citations (IRR 2.0 [95% CI 1.3, 3.2]). Conclusions: Dissemination of plastic surgery research through social media channels increases an articles impact as measured by citations.

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