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Peer-reviewed science takes off on Twitter

But who is tweeting what and why?

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The most tweeted peer-reviewed articles published between 2010 and 2012, and the trends associated with their social media success, have been identified by Stefanie Haustein at the University of Montreal's School of Library and Information Science.

Haustein and colleagues from the US, UK and Germany took 1.4 million articles held in the PubMed and Web of Science databases and determined how many times they appeared on Twitter. "Being based on 1.4 million documents, this is the largest Twitter study of scholarly articles so far," Haustein said.

The top two were articles on the effect of radiation on humans, and the top 15 includes articles on acne in teenage athletes, penile fracture, and the links between physical activity and mortality rates. Number 12 was in fact an article on autism by Laurent Mottron, a professor at the University of Montreal. The findings were published in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST).

The study looked at tweets that were directly related to the peer-reviewed article in question. The tweets either contained a link directly to the article in a scientific database or contained highly specific bibliographic information that would enable anyone to find the study immediately (such as DOI or PMID numbers).

The analysis shows that a high number of tweets does not correspond to a...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.