Does tweeting research help?

Nature, always hoping to increase the reach of researchers, has a study that shows using the platform formerly known as Twitter to share research will still boost your engagement online, but will no longer help you get your findings cited by other researchers:

An international group of 11 researchers, who by the end of the experiment between them had nearly 230,000 followers on X, examined whether there was evidence that posting about a paper would increase its citation rate.

“There certainly is a correlation, and that’s been found in a lot of papers. But very few people have ever looked to see whether there’s any experimental causation,” says Trevor Branch, a marine ecologist at the University of Washington in Seattle and lead author on the paper, published in PLoS ONE last week1.

Every month for ten months, each researcher was allocated a randomly selected primary research article or review from a journal of their choice to post about on their personal account. Four randomly chosen articles from the same edition of the journal served as controls, which the researchers did not post about. They conducted the experiment in the period before Elon Musk took ownership of what was then known as Twitter and complaints of its declining quality increased.

Three years after the initial posts, the team compared the citation rates for the 110 posted articles with those of the 440 control articles, and found no significant difference. The researchers did acknowledge that their followers may not have have been numerous enough to detect a statistically significant effect on citations.

The rate of daily downloads for the posted papers was nearly fourfold higher on the day that they were shared, compared with controls.