A presence on social media may be useful for visibility but it isn’t significantly improving the visibility of research out of India, says a study published in the latest issue of the journal Current Science.
The influence of a research publication is primarily gauged by the number of citations — namely, how often peer scientists reference it. Traditionally, these have largely been of interest to scientists, but with the growth of social media and online scientific journals, the popularity of uploading drafts to online sites for peer-review ahead of formal publication has increased. There’s also a surge in discussions of scientific research on social media. These has led to the existence of a new class of popularity indicators called ‘altmetrics’ that track the number of mentions and shares of scientific publications on social media. Altmetrics have now emerged as a sub-field of scientific study, where researchers analyse social media coverage and consumption of scholarly articles, and sometimes even use them to predict future citations of scholarly articles.
A group of researchers analysed 1,460,124 research papers found indexed in the Web of Science (WoS), a global database of scientific publications. Nearly 681,274 are found to be covered by altmetric.com, a site that aggregates mentions of scientific publications from various social media platforms, blogs and popular search engines. “Approximately 47% of research output from the world is covered in some social media platform,” the researchers note in their study.
Of the total 76,621 research papers published from India, only 21,644 are found to be included in altmetric.com, or about 29% of the research output from India is covered in social media platforms.
“...It is evident that research output from India, in general, is getting lesser attention in social media platforms compared to the world average...India’s share of altmetric coverage to the world lies between 2% and 5% for different platforms,” the researchers who are based at the South Asian University, New Delhi; the Benares Hindu University and the Leibnitz Institute of Social Science, Cologne, Germany, report in their study.
For India, the platform Mendeley had the highest coverage of 27%, followed by Attention Score with 24%, Twitter with 21% and Facebook with 4%. Globally, the figures for Mendeley were 43%, Attention Score 37%, Twitter at 34%, and Facebook at 9%.
Medicine and Biology were the most popular disciplines in India that were likely to get mentioned on social media, the researchers note.