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Promotion of a neurosurgical academic journal on social media: a 1-year experience

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Sorba, Elena L. 
Staartjes, Victor E.  ORCID logo
Serra, Carlo 
Regli, Luca 
Alamri, Alex 


Background: Social media (SoMe) use, in all of its forms, has seen massively increased throughout the past two decades, including academic publishing. Many journals have established a SoMe presence, yet the influence of promotion of scientific publications on their visibility and impact remains poorly studied. The European Journal of Neurosurgery «Acta Neurochirurgica» has established its SoMe presence in form of a Twitter account that regularly promotes its publications. We aim to analyze the impact of this initial SoMe campaign on various alternative metrics (altmetrics). Methods: A retrospective analysis of all articles published in the journal Acta Neurochirurgica between May 1st, 2018, and April 30th, 2020, was performed. These articles were divided into a historical control group — containing the articles published between May 1st, 2018, and April 30th, 2019, when the SoMe campaign was not yet established — and into an intervention group. Several altmetrics were analyzed, along with website visits and PDF downloads per month. Results: In total, 784 articles published during the study period, 128 (16.3%) were promoted via Twitter. During the promotion period, 29.7% of published articles were promoted. Overall, the published articles reached a mean of 31.3 ± 50.5 website visits and 17.5 ± 31.25 PDF downloads per month. Comparing the two study periods, no statistically significant differences in website visits (26.91 ± 32.87 vs. 34.90 ± 61.08, p = 0.189) and PDF downloads (17.52 ± 31.25 vs. 15.33 ± 16.07, p = 0.276) were detected. However, overall compared to non-promoted articles, promoted articles were visited (48.9 ± 95.0 vs. 29.0 ± 37.0, p = 0.005) and downloaded significantly more (25.7 ± 66.7 vs. 16.6 ± 18.0, p = 0.045) when compared to those who were not promoted during the promotion period. Conclusions: We report a 1-year initial experience with promotion of a general neurosurgical journal on Twitter. Our data suggest a clear benefit of promotion on article site visits and article downloads, although no single responsible element could be determined in terms of altmetrics. The impact of SoMe promotion on other metrics, including traditional bibliometrics such as citations and journal impact factor, remains to be determined.


Acknowledgements: The authors sincerely thank Diana Epstein for her enduring support, and Bianca Battilana for her aid in preparing the dataset.

Funder: University of Zurich


Twitter, Bibliometrics, Altmetrics, Social media, Neurosurgery

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Acta Neurochirurgica

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Springer Vienna