The purpose of this paper is to understand the profiles of users and their motivations in sharing research articles on Twitter. The goal is to contribute to the understanding of Twitter as a new altmetric measure for assessing impact of research articles. In this paper, we extended the previous study of tweet motivations by finding out the profiles of twitter users. In particular, we examined six characteristics of users: gender, geographic distribution, academic, non-academic, individual, and organization. Out of several, we would like to highlight here three key findings. First, a great majority of users (86%) were from North America and Europe indicating the possibility that, if in general, tweets for research articles are mainly in English, Twitter as an alternative metric has a Western bias. Second, several previous altmetrics studies suggested that tweets, and altmetrics in general, do not indicate scholarly impact due to their low correlation with citation counts. This study provides further details in this aspect by revealing that most tweets (77%) were by individual users, 67% of whom were nonacademic. Therefore, tweets mostly reflect impact of research articles on the general public, rather than on academia. Finally, analysis from profiles and motivations showed that the majority of tweets (from 42% to 57%) in all user types highlighted the summary or findings of the article indicating that tweets are a new way of communicating research findings.
Twitter; Altmetrics; User Profiling; Motivation; Psychology
Journal of Information Science Theory and Practice