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Concept: Mass media


Altmetric measurements derived from the social web are increasingly advocated and used as early indicators of article impact and usefulness. Nevertheless, there is a lack of systematic scientific evidence that altmetrics are valid proxies of either impact or utility although a few case studies have reported medium correlations between specific altmetrics and citation rates for individual journals or fields. To fill this gap, this study compares 11 altmetrics with Web of Science citations for 76 to 208,739 PubMed articles with at least one altmetric mention in each case and up to 1,891 journals per metric. It also introduces a simple sign test to overcome biases caused by different citation and usage windows. Statistically significant associations were found between higher metric scores and higher citations for articles with positive altmetric scores in all cases with sufficient evidence (Twitter, Facebook wall posts, research highlights, blogs, mainstream media and forums) except perhaps for Google+ posts. Evidence was insufficient for LinkedIn, Pinterest, question and answer sites, and Reddit, and no conclusions should be drawn about articles with zero altmetric scores or the strength of any correlation between altmetrics and citations. Nevertheless, comparisons between citations and metric values for articles published at different times, even within the same year, can remove or reverse this association and so publishers and scientometricians should consider the effect of time when using altmetrics to rank articles. Finally, the coverage of all the altmetrics except for Twitter seems to be low and so it is not clear if they are prevalent enough to be useful in practice.

Concepts: Scientific method, Utility, Web 2.0, Social network service, Mass media, Social media, Online social networking, Style guide


Twitter is an increasingly popular means of research dissemination. I sought to examine the relation between scientific merit and mainstream popularity of general medical journals.

Concepts: Scientific method, Ecology, Sociology, Mass media, Twitter, Popular culture


The academic scandal on a study on stimulus‑triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells in Japan in 2014 involved suspicions of scientific misconduct by the lead author of the study after the paper had been reviewed on a peer‑review website. This study investigated the discussions on STAP cells on Twitter and content of newspaper articles in an attempt to assess the role of social compared with traditional media in scientific peer review.

Concepts: Scientific method, Academia, Peer review, Review, Mass media, Journalism, Twitter, Scientific misconduct


Mass media plays an important role in communicating about health research and services to patients, and in shaping public perceptions and decisions about health. Healthcare professionals also play an important role in providing patients with credible, evidence-based and up-to-date information on a wide range of health issues. This study aims to explore primary care nurses' experiences of how mass media influences frontline healthcare.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, United Kingdom, Media, Public relations, Mass media, Media influence, Marshall McLuhan


There is increasing research evidence about the causal role of alcohol in cancer, accompanied by unclear and conflicting messages in the media. This paper aimed to clarify the strength of the evidence for alcohol as a cause of cancer, and the meaning of cause in this context.

Concepts: Alcohol, Causality, The Canon of Medicine, Ethanol, Meaning of life, Metaphysics, Music, Mass media


Food and beverage marketing has been associated with childhood obesity. We quantified the number and type of food or beverage brands promoted by music celebrities, assessed the nutritional quality of the products, and examined Teen Choice Award data to assess the celebrities' popularity among adolescents.

Concepts: Nutrition, Diabetes mellitus, Obesity, Childhood, Adolescence, Malnutrition, Childhood obesity, Mass media


A barrier to dissemination of research is that it depends on the end-user searching for or ‘pulling’ relevant knowledge from the literature base. Social media instead ‘pushes’ relevant knowledge straight to the end-user, via blogs and sites such as Facebook and Twitter. That social media is very effective at improving dissemination seems well accepted, but, remarkably, there is no evidence to support this claim. We aimed to quantify the impact of social media release on views and downloads of articles in the clinical pain sciences. Sixteen PLOS ONE articles were blogged and released via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and on one of two randomly selected dates. The other date served as a control. The primary outcomes were the rate of HTML views and PDF downloads of the article, over a seven-day period. The critical result was an increase in both outcome variables in the week after the blog post and social media release. The mean ± SD rate of HTML views in the week after the social media release was 18±18 per day, whereas the rate during the other three weeks was no more than 6±3 per day. The mean ± SD rate of PDF downloads in the week after the social media release was 4±4 per day, whereas the rate during the other three weeks was less than 1±1 per day (p<0.05 for all comparisons). However, none of the recognized measures of social media reach, engagement or virality related to either outcome variable, nor to citation count one year later (p>0.3 for all). We conclude that social media release of a research article in the clinical pain sciences increases the number of people who view or download that article, but conventional social media metrics are unrelated to the effect.

Concepts: Effectiveness, Web 2.0, Social information processing, Social network service, Mass media, Social media, Blog, Public Library of Science


News coverage of Islamic extremism is reigniting debates about the media’s role in promoting prejudice toward Muslims. Psychological theories of media-induced prejudice date to the 1950’s, and find support from controlled experiments. However, national-scale studies of media effects on Muslim prejudice are lacking. Orthogonal research investigating media-induced prejudice toward immigrants has failed to establish any link. Moreover, it has been found that people interpret the news in ways that confirm pre-existing attitudes, suggesting that media induced Muslim prejudice in liberal democracies is unlikely. Here, we test the association between news exposure and anti-Muslim prejudice in a diverse national sample from one of the world’s most tolerant societies, where media effects are least likely to hold (N = 16,584, New Zealand). In support of media-induced Islamophobia, results show that greater news exposure is associated with both increased anger and reduced warmth toward Muslims. Additionally, the relationship between media exposure and anti-Muslim prejudice does not reliably vary with political ideology, supporting claims that it is widespread representations of Muslims in the news, rather than partisan media biases, that drives anti-Muslim prejudice.

Concepts: Sociology, Experiment, New Zealand, Islam, Mass media, Democracy, Marshall McLuhan, Liberal democracy


A number of new metrics based on social media platforms-grouped under the term “altmetrics”-have recently been introduced as potential indicators of research impact. Despite their current popularity, there is a lack of information regarding the determinants of these metrics. Using publication and citation data from 1.3 million papers published in 2012 and covered in Thomson Reuters' Web of Science as well as social media counts from, this paper analyses the main patterns of five social media metrics as a function of document characteristics (i.e., discipline, document type, title length, number of pages and references) and collaborative practices and compares them to patterns known for citations. Results show that the presence of papers on social media is low, with 21.5% of papers receiving at least one tweet, 4.7% being shared on Facebook, 1.9% mentioned on blogs, 0.8% found on Google+ and 0.7% discussed in mainstream media. By contrast, 66.8% of papers have received at least one citation. Our findings show that both citations and social media metrics increase with the extent of collaboration and the length of the references list. On the other hand, while editorials and news items are seldom cited, it is these types of document that are the most popular on Twitter. Similarly, while longer papers typically attract more citations, an opposite trend is seen on social media platforms. Finally, contrary to what is observed for citations, it is papers in the Social Sciences and humanities that are the most often found on social media platforms. On the whole, these findings suggest that factors driving social media and citations are different. Therefore, social media metrics cannot actually be seen as alternatives to citations; at most, they may function as complements to other type of indicators.

Concepts: Sociology, Social sciences, Reference, Citation, Mass media, Thomson Reuters, Twitter, Social media


The Internet and social media have enabled the mobilization of large crowds to achieve time-critical feats, ranging from mapping crises in real time, to organizing mass rallies, to conducting search-and-rescue operations over large geographies. Despite significant success, selection bias may lead to inflated expectations of the efficacy of social mobilization for these tasks. What are the limits of social mobilization, and how reliable is it in operating at these limits? We build on recent results on the spatiotemporal structure of social and information networks to elucidate the constraints they pose on social mobilization. We use the DARPA Network Challenge as our working scenario, in which social media were used to locate 10 balloons across the United States. We conduct high-resolution simulations for referral-based crowdsourcing and obtain a statistical characterization of the population recruited, geography covered, and time to completion. Our results demonstrate that the outcome is plausible without the presence of mass media but lies at the limit of what time-critical social mobilization can achieve. Success relies critically on highly connected individuals willing to mobilize people in distant locations, overcoming the local trapping of diffusion in highly dense areas. However, even under these highly favorable conditions, the risk of unsuccessful search remains significant. These findings have implications for the design of better incentive schemes for social mobilization. They also call for caution in estimating the reliability of this capability.

Concepts: United States, Geography, Reliability, Media, Limit, Crowd, Mass media, Media bias