Share this article on:

Beyond Citation Rates: A Real-Time Impact Analysis of Health Professions Education Research Using Altmetrics

Maggio, Lauren A. PhD; Meyer, Holly S. PhD; Artino, Anthony R. Jr PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001897
Research Reports

Purpose To complement traditional citation-based metrics, which take years to accrue and indicate only academic attention, academia has begun considering altmetrics or alternative metrics, which provide timely feedback on an article’s impact by tracking its dissemination via nontraditional outlets, such as blogs and social media, across audiences. This article describes altmetrics and examines altmetrics attention, outlets used, and top article characteristics for health professions education (HPE) research.

Method Using Altmetric Explorer, a tool to search altmetrics activity, the authors searched for HPE articles that had at least one altmetrics event (e.g., an article was tweeted or featured in a news story) between 2011 and 2015. Retrieved articles were analyzed using descriptive statistics. In addition, the 10 articles with the highest Altmetric Attention Scores were identified and their key characteristics extracted.

Results The authors analyzed 6,265 articles with at least one altmetrics event from 13 journals. Articles appeared in 14 altmetrics outlets. Mendeley (161,470 saves), Twitter (37,537 tweets), and Facebook (1,650 posts) were most popular. The number of HPE articles with altmetrics attention increased 145%, from 539 published in 2011 to 1,321 in 2015. In 2015, 50% or more of the articles in 5 journals received altmetrics attention. Themes for articles with the most altmetrics attention included social media or social networking; three such articles were written as tips or guides.

Conclusions Increasing altmetrics attention signals interest in HPE research and the need for further investigation. Knowledge of popular and underused outlets may help investigators strategically share research for broader dissemination.

L.A. Maggio is associate professor of medicine and associate director of distance learning and technology, Graduate Programs in Health Professions Education, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland; ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2997-6133.

H.S. Meyer is assistant professor of medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland; Twitter: @hollysmeyer; ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8833-8003.

A.R. Artino Jr is professor of medicine and deputy director, Graduate Programs in Health Professions Education, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland; Twitter: @mededdoc; ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2661-7853.

Data sharing: The data analyzed for this study have been deposited in Figshare and are available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.4884569.v2.

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A474.

Correspondence should be addressed to Lauren A. Maggio, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 4301 Jones Bridge Rd., Bethesda, MD 20814-4799; e-mail: lauren.maggio@usuhs.edu; Twitter: @laurenmaggio.

Written work prepared by employees of the Federal Government as part of their official duties is, under the U.S. Copyright Act, a “work of the United States Government” for which copyright protection under Title 17 of the United States Code is not available. As such, copyright does not extend to the contributions of employees of the Federal Government.

© 2017 by the Association of American Medical Colleges