Newsworthiness vs scientific impact: are the most highly cited urology papers the most widely disseminated in the media?

BJU Int. 2017 Sep;120(3):441-454. doi: 10.1111/bju.13881. Epub 2017 May 18.


Objective: To assess whether a correlation exists between newsworthiness (Altmetric score) and scientific impact markers, such as citation analysis, impact factors, and levels of evidence.

Methods: The top five most cited articles for the year 2014 and 2015 from the top 10 ranking urology journals (Scientific Impact Group) were identified. The top 50 articles each in 2014 and 2015 were identified from Altmetric support based on media activity (Media Impact Group). We determined the number of citations that these articles received in the scientific literature, and calculated correlations between citations with Altmetric scores.

Results: In the Scientific Impact Group, the mean number of citations per article was 37.6, and the most highly cited articles were oncology guidelines. The mean Altmetric score in these articles was 14.8. There was a weak positive correlation between citations and Altmetric score (rs = 0.35, 95% confidence interval 0.16-0.52, P < 0.001). In the Media Impact Group, the mean Altmetric score was 121.1 and most widely shared articles all related to sexual medicine. In this group, the mean number of citations was 9.7 and there was a weak negative correlation between Altmetric score and citations (rs = -0.20, P = 0.046).

Conclusion: The top articles based on Altmetric scores were not highly cited, suggesting that publications receiving the most media attention may not be the most scientifically rigorous, or that this audience places greater value on different subjects than the scientific community.

Keywords: Altmetrics; citations; digital media; newsworthiness; urology.

MeSH terms

  • Bibliometrics*
  • Humans
  • Journal Impact Factor*
  • Urology*