In case you are wondering whether receiving social media attention increases a paper’s influence, consider that in just the first few hours, the HEAT trial received some of the most Twitter attention in the history of the NEJM’s account. Is this isolated? Apparently not. At least two studies have shown that articles that receive online attention are more likely to be influential than those that do not (another study found otherwise). This is a possible early indication of the death knell for the dominance of Journal Impact Factor as the primary arbiter of prestige in research. Back in 2005, Brody et al published data in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology showing that a higher number of downloads of a paper correlated to future citations of that article. Later, in 2011, Gunther Eysenbach, MD, MPH (@eysenbach), published findings in the Journal of Medical Internet Research suggesting that mere Twitter attention in the first few days after publication predicated which articles would go on to become highly cited in future literature. More recently, proprietary products such as Altmetric have moved to monetize the idea that a combination of page views, downloads, tweets, and other forms of social media and online attention may more accurately reflect the impact of a particular peer-reviewed publication than previous metrics such as impact factor.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 34 – No 11 – November 2015
This comes as no surprise to me. At #ACEP13, Dr. Weingart informally polled his audience. How many people, he asked, routinely performed apneic oxygenation as part of their preintubation procedure because of his and Dr. Levitan’s NODESAT paper? The vast majority of hands immediately went up. While this was clearly a select audience, the point was made. How often could papers published even by the top peer-reviewed journal of our field, Annals of Emergency Medicine, expect to enjoy such wide and brisk translation from print to practice in the first two years after publication? The answer is very few. The fact that Dr. Weingart’s EMCrit podcast is downloaded approximately 300,000 times per month and that he and Dr. Levitan combine for more than 26,000 Twitter followers may have something to do with that.
The ethos of FOAM continues to develop. While I hope it never sheds its freedom-fighter posture, it is a welcome development that FOAMites are becoming true thought leaders in emergency medicine and critical care.