My dirty secret about my latest paper

I have a dirty secret. Actually, it’s not a secret because it’s on twitter which is a public forum so everyone can see it. But I do feel kind of grubby about it and I’ve just worked out why. Last Thursday, I sent this tweet –

Ten lovely people obliged (thank you for playing along @benbondlamberty, @TimCurran8, @PhilJ_Rose,  @HelenWNathan, @PPUAMX, @jcusens, @jmrbrock, @SarahTheWise, @turtleandweasel, @ju*ka, you guys rock) and now my paper is ranked 3rd of 172 for the journal Plant Ecology. I think it’s an important paper because it shows litterfall increases significantly in kauri forest under severe drought. However, I am well aware that I’m completely biased and we haven’t really made any major scientific advances with this work. So now I don’t feel right about manipulating altmetrics scores. As part of this process, one of the retweeters contacted me (probably tongue-in-cheek) and suggested I should tweet about his paper. So I had a look at it and wrote this –

It’s been retweeted 13 times. So for one retweet, my friend has my tweet plus 13 retweets contributing towards his altmetric score. I’d like to think it was my witty take on his paper that scored the retweets. Reality is, it was the universal appeal of their findings. This paper was already in the to 5% of all papers with altmetrics scores so had already proven it’s worth.

I guess that’s why I feel kind of wrong about what I did. Something with wide appeal or super cool results will get attention without the author being so overt. I’m not convinced I have the 3rd best paper in this journal but I do know I have a few fun friends on twitter. I don’t think I’ll be so bold about asking for retweets again. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this?

For more on altmetrics and what they tell us, check out this post on the Wiley Exchanges Blog.

And find further reflections on social media stats here.

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