Mapping Academic Tweets

Another day, another Twitter map- this time showing the global distribution of tweets that link to academic journal articles. I am always a bit skeptical of Twitter data (especially with location information) but as an academic seeking to publish in many of the journals that feature in people’s tweets I was prepared to make an exception when producing these maps. The data come from a cool service called Altmetric.journal_tweets_point

I think mapping Twitter’s engagement with the academic literature is important as it echos the map below and provides another example of the dominance of researchers (both in terms of access and production) from a few countries in the academic literature.

You can see how the “hotspots” of collaboration allign with the hotspots of tweets below.


One thing academics strive for is “impact”. This can mean many things, but one often applied criterion is the number of people outside of your immediate academic community that read your work. Twitter is becoming increasingly cited as an example of impact (for example how many followers an academic has), but as these maps demonstrate, much of the engaged audience is already where work is relatively easily accessible.

About the data from Altmetric:

“This dataset lists the ~ 58k tweets that mentioned a scientific article (broadly speaking anything with a DOI, PMID or arxiv ID) between the 1st and 31st of July 2011.

Recall isn’t 100%: my best estimate is that it’s missing another ~ 6k tweets where the article couldn’t be identified, the link was malformed or the journal involved is new or gets very low traffic.

Twitter’s TOS prohibit re-distribution of the tweets themselves but the dataset contains the extracted links, the tweet ID and some information about the tweeter (screen name, country & lat/lng derived from their location using Yahoo! Placemaker).