Twitter can affect how journal articles are consumed by the public

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January 18, 2022

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Garg SJ. Use of Twitter by ophthalmology journals and impact on citations. Presented at: Retina 2022; January 15-21, 2022; Waikoloa, Hawaii.


Disclosures: Garg does not report any relevant financial information.


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WAIKOLOA, Hawaii — Twitter could potentially affect how journal articles are viewed, read and shared among academic professionals, an expert told Retina 2022.

According to Sunir J. Garg, MD, FACS, co-director of retina research at Wills Eye Hospital, there are nearly 400 million users on Twitter, about half of whom are active daily.

Sunir J. Garg

Garg’s discussion focused on newspaper articles shared on Twitter and their impact on the public, the media and those who benefit from public data. To calculate this impact factor, Garg said data from the past 2 years is used to calculate the impact for the current year. For example, for 2020, the total number of journal articles from 2018 and 2019 would be added, and this number would be divided by the number of citations included in those articles from the past 2 years.

According to Garg’s formula, the journal with the highest impact factor and citations since 2016 is American Journal of Ophthalmology.

Garg and colleagues assessed 221 review articles published in November 2017 in the top 10 ophthalmology journals. For 3 years, they cataloged all academic quotes and tweets for each article, then looked at unique tweets and retweets.

“Unique tweets are generally considered more valuable than retweets,” Garg said. “These are people who pick up their phone, read the article and say, ‘You know, this is very interesting. I’m going to tweet something about this about why this is important.

Retweets, Garg said, are considered less valuable in terms of academic credit, while each additional tweet, or “unique tweet,” is associated with 2.6 additional academic citations.

According to the authors, original tweets were positively associated with more quotes. However, what contributed most citations were articles with randomized controlled trials, followed by the impact factor of the journal.

“There’s definitely a disconnect between what we as researchers decide what’s important, what the internet finds important, and what people tweet,” Garg said. “Twitter activity may have some impact on science impact.”


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