Social media and research publication activity during early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic: Longitudinal trend analysis

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Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of rapid dissemination of scientific and medical discoveries. Current platforms available for the distribution of scientific and clinical research data and information include preprint repositories and traditional peer-reviewed journals. In recent times, social media has emerged as a helpful platform to share scientific and medical discoveries. Objective: This study aimed to comparatively analyze activity on social media (specifically, Twitter) and that related to publications in the form of preprint and peer-reviewed journal articles in the context of COVID-19 and gastroenterology during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: COVID-19–related data from Twitter (tweets and user data) and articles published in preprint servers (bioRxiv and medRxiv) as well as in the PubMed database were collected and analyzed during the first 6 months of the pandemic, from December 2019 through May 2020. Global and regional geographic and gastrointestinal organ–specific social media trends were compared to preprint and publication activity. Any relationship between Twitter activity and preprint articles published and that between Twitter activity and PubMed articles published overall, by organ system, and by geographic location were identified using Spearman’s rank-order correlation. Results: Over the 6-month period, 73,079 tweets from 44,609 users, 7164 journal publications, and 4702 preprint publications were retrieved. Twitter activity (ie, number of tweets) peaked in March 2020, whereas preprint and publication activity (ie, number of articles published) peaked in April 2020. Overall, strong correlations were identified between trends in Twitter activity and preprint and publication activity (P

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Taneja, S. L., Passi, M., Bhattacharya, S., Schueler, S. A., Gurram, S., & Koh, C. (2021). Social media and research publication activity during early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic: Longitudinal trend analysis. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 23(6). https://doi.org/10.2196/26956

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