D. De Oliveira Silva1, M.F. Pazzinatto1,2, B. Taborda2, C.J. Barton1
1La Trobe University, La Trobe Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Centre, Melbourne, Australia, 2Sao Paulo State University (UNESP), Physiotherapy, Presidente Prudente, Brazil

Background: Research quality is typically measured by traditional metrics including journal impact factor and article citations. The traditional academic journal model is criticised due to paywalls, difficulty in comprehension and time required for readers to consume a rapidly growing volume of research. Digital and social media have reformulated and expanded the way scientific information can be disseminated. Yet, many journal publishers and researchers have been slow to adopt digital and social media to share new research. Currently, the impact that non-traditional metrics (e.g. altmetric) have on the number of citations of articles in the sport sciences field is unknown.

Purpose: To determine the relationship of individual article citations in the field of sport sciences with (i) journal impact factor; (ii) ‘open access’ status; (iii) altmetric score; and (iv) individual altmetric score components.

Methods: For this cross-sectional study, we searched the Web of Knowledge InCites Journal Citation Reports database (Clarivate analytics®) in September 2019 to January 2020 for the 20 highest impact factor journals for 2018 in the “Sport Sciences” field. We recorded the 2018 journal impact factor for all 20 journals. One author examined the articles listed in each issue of these journals published in 2017 to obtain data from original research and review articles. We extracted the following from each article: (i) authors; (ii) title; (iii) journal issue; (iv) number of citations listed in ISI Web of Knowledge; and (v) open access status. Altmetric score were obtained by using an altmetric bookmarklet (“Altmetric It”). Altmetric data, including total score and sources mentioned (number of tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube users, news outlets, blog posts and policy documents), were extracted. Linear regression models were performed to determine the capability of journal impact factor, open access status and altmetric features (independent variables) to predict the number of citations (dependent variable). This study does not require ethical approval.

Results: 4,035 articles were included in our study. When all independent variables were inserted into a forced entry regression model, it explained 41.7% of the variance for article citations. Total altmetric score, journal impact factor and open access status and explained 31%, 11%, 1% of the variance of article citations respectively. The altmetric source explaining the highest proportion of article citations was the number of tweets related to an article (40%), followed by number of blog posts (20%), facebook posts (15%), and news outlets (12%). Number of policy documents and YouTube users did not significantly explain the variance for article citations (p > 0.05).

Conclusion(s): A sports science article’s altmetric score has a stronger relationship with number of citations than journal impact factor or open access status in sports science journals. Twitter may be the best social media platform to promote research when aiming to increase article citations.

Implications: Sports Science researchers and journal publishers should consider developing and implementing communications plans to promote publications on mainstream and social media. Our findings may help researchers and journals to enhance research impact by optimising dissemination strategies for published research.

Funding, acknowledgements: None.

Keywords: Knowledge translation, Social media, Communication

Topic: Research methodology, knowledge translation & implementation science

Did this work require ethics approval? No
Institution: University of Sao Paulo State
Committee: University of Sao Paulo State Ethics committee
Reason: This study does not involve humans or animals neither sensitive data.

All authors, affiliations and abstracts have been published as submitted.

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