Impact of BMC Medicine articles in the news and social media

Today, as part of our 10 year anniversary, we take a look at a more contemporary measure of article level metrics in BMC Medicine, by looking at our top 10 articles as ranked by Altmetric quantifies the media response of an article over a variety of online platforms including news items, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Reddit among others, to give a measure of the interest the article has received. This response is indicated via an Altmetric ‘donut’ which BioMed Central added to all published articles in May 2012. More information can be read in a previous blog.

On publication we regularly tweet about our articles from our @BMCMedicine Twitter account and also encourage authors to share articles via their own social media profiles. We work closely with our Press Center in order to disseminate articles we feel are of broad public interest, and often write blogs on our articles where appropriate. As a journal, we find Altmetric scores very interesting, and follow them closely for each new article we publish. As a general medical journal, much of our content is of interest to patient groups, as well as researchers and medical practitioners, and so by following Altmetric data it is useful for us to see who is actively discussing our articles. In a Twitter chat we held last year, we found that generally, healthcare providers deem social media as an important tool for patients allowing them to feel more educated about a specific condition or treatment.

See the list of our top 10 articles with highest Altmetric scores below. Click on the donut next to any of the articles to see the breakdown of the article’s social impact. A more colourful donut indicates that the article has been mentioned on a higher number of different media outlets. It must be noted that the Altmetric score does not necessarily indicate the quality of a study, but rather it acts as an indicator of social interest, and should be used as a supplement against other measures such as article accesses and citations as mentioned in our blogs earlier this week. Unsurprisingly, our top 10 list consists of studies published in the last two years. Altmetric does include studies published before this time, but the scores of articles published before July 2011 are less likely to be accurate.

For each article that has been mentioned on Twitter, Altmetric provides a map with a breakdown of the geographical location of each tweet sent. For example, the fourth highest article on our list below, a research article on Open access versus subscription journals, generated substantial interest across the globe as indicated in the Altmetic diagram below. This allows authors to instantly see where in the world their article is being discussed, which until the introduction of measures such as Altmetric, was difficult to ascertain.



As an open access journal, we find social media to be a very useful tool in disseminating our articles to researchers, academics and to the public, as anyone can open our articles directly from a link within a tweet. As well as providing an overall score, Almetric also provides information on ‘tweeter demographics’. Take our third highest scoring article in the list below; Alcohol intake, wine consumption and the development of depression. This study found that a moderate amount of wine was associated with a reduced risk of depression – understandably this research gained a lot of attention via social media. A quick glance at the ‘tweeter demographics’ indicates that 77% of the tweeters were members of the public, with 11% of tweeters being practitioners (doctors, other healthcare professionals), 6% being Science communicators (journalists, bloggers, editors) and 4% being scientists. This is a prime example of how social media can be used to distribute research, both within and outside of academia. This information doesn’t tell us which of the tweeters actually go on to read the full research article, but it does provide us with useful information on general interest levels. Altmetric also keeps track of how many users include a given article on tools such as Mendeley and citeUlike, and since these are most likely to be used by researchers, this gives us a more direct indication of academic interest.

Since article level metrics of this type are a relatively new measure of research impact, it remains to be seen how much of a useful tool they actually are, but it is certainly something that we at BMC Medicine will continue to watch closely.

1. DNA barcoding detects contamination and substitution in North American herbal products
Steven G Newmaster, Meghan Grguric, Dhivya Shanmughanandhan, Sathishkumar Ramalingam, Subramanyam Ragupathy
BMC Medicine 2013, 11:222
2. Meat consumption and mortality – results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition
Sabine Rohrmann, Kim Overvad, H Bueno-de-Mesquita, Marianne U Jakobsen, Rikke Egeberg, Anne Tjønneland, Laura Nailler, Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault, Françoise Clavel-Chapelon, Vittorio Krogh, Domenico Palli, Salvatore Panico, Rosario Tumino, Fulvio Ricceri, Manuela M Bergmann, Heiner Boeing, Kuanrong Li, Rudolf Kaaks, Kay-Tee Khaw, Nicholas J Wareham, Francesca L Crowe, Timothy J Key, Androniki Naska, Antonia Trichopoulou, Dimitirios Trichopoulos, Max Leenders, Petra HM Peeters, Dagrun Engeset, Christine L Parr, Guri Skeie et al.
BMC Medicine
 2013, 11:63
3. Alcohol intake, wine consumption and the development of depression: the PREDIMED study
Alfredo Gea, Juan J Beunza, Ramón Estruch, Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Pilar Buil-Cosiales, Enrique Gómez-Gracia, María-Isabel Covas, Dolores Corella, Miquel Fiol, Fernando Arós, José Lapetra, Rosa-María Lamuela-Raventós, Julia Wärnberg, Xavier Pintó, Lluis Serra-Majem, Miguel A Martínez-González, for the PREDIMED GROUP
BMC Medicine 2013, 11:192
4. Open access versus subscription journals: a comparison of scientific impact
Bo-Christer Björk, David Solomon
BMC Medicine 2012, 10:73
5. Anatomy of open access publishing: a study of longitudinal development and internal structure
Mikael Laakso, Bo-Christer Björk
BMC Medicine 2012, 10:124
6. Spectrum of gluten-related disorders: consensus on new nomenclature and classification
Anna Sapone, Julio C Bai, Carolina Ciacci, Jernej Dolinsek, Peter HR Green, Marios Hadjivassiliou, Katri Kaukinen, Kamran Rostami, David S Sanders, Michael Schumann, Reiner Ullrich, Danilo Villalta, Umberto Volta, Carlo Catassi, Alessio Fasano
BMC Medicine 2012, 10:13
7. Medicine, morality and health care social media
Farris K Timimi
BMC Medicine 2012, 10:83
8. Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy is associated with birth weight but not with gestational length: results from a large prospective observational cohort study
Verena Sengpiel, Elisabeth Elind, Jonas Bacelis, Staffan Nilsson, Jakob Grove, Ronny Myhre, Margaretha Haugen, Helle Meltzer, Jan Alexander, Bo Jacobsson, Anne-Lise Brantsæter
BMC Medicine 2013, 11:42
9. The UKCAT-12 study: educational attainment, aptitude test performance, demographic and socio-economic contextual factors as predictors of first year outcome in a cross-sectional collaborative study of 12 UK medical schools
I C McManus, Chris Dewberry, Sandra Nicholson, Jonathan S Dowell
BMC Medicine 2013, 11:244
10. Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome and encephalomyelitis disseminata/multiple sclerosis show remarkable levels of similarity in phenomenology and neuroimmune characteristics
Gerwyn Morris, Michael Maes
BMC Medicine 2013, 11:205

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