The Effect of Twitter on Academic Dentistry

Nitika Gupta

Gupta, Nitika1, Ho, Alex2, Sahingur, Sinem E.1
1University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Department of Periodontics
2Penn State Health St. Joseph, Department of Performance Improvement


Publishers and authors are utilizing social media in an effort to increase dissemination of scientific information. The aim of this pilot study is to determine the relationship between traditional metrics of research impact (e.g. number of citations) and alternative metrics (altmetrics) (e.g. Twitter activity) in the field of dentistry.


The articles from the January edition of the top 11 journals in 2006 (historical control, prior to Twitter creation) and 2017 were selected. Tweet and citation data were obtained from Altmetric Bookmarklet and Web of Science’s Journal Citation Reports, respectively. Wilcoxon rank-sum tests and Analysis of Covariance adjusting for the author count, publication year, and type of article were performed. Comparison of the top same journals in both 2006 and 2017 list was also examined.


152 articles were published in the top dental journals in January 2017, accumulating 223 tweets and 2805 citations. The majority of articles were clinical research (63) followed by basic research (52) and reviews/case reports (35). The total citation was 18.5±20.4 (mean±SD) per article and the total twitter was 1.5±4.5. There was a statistically significant difference in mean citation rate between articles that were tweeted (22.4±22.7) and those which were not tweeted (15.4±17.7) (p=0.043). Correlation between tweets and citations was also significant (r=0.2, p=0.028). Analysis between the journals that were both in the top 2006 and 2017 showed a significant difference in the mean yearly citation rate (3.9±3.7 and 5.9±5.8 respectively, p=0.040). Twitter promotion of articles was associated with higher adjusted mean of 42.3 citations compared to 35.1 of not tweeted and the difference was modest following subgroup analyses.


Our pilot data supports that social media promotion of research articles through Twitter may have an impact on citation rates.