Citation Advantage of Promoted Articles in a Cross-Publisher Distribution Platform: 36-Month Follow-up to a Randomized Controlled Trial

J Med Internet Res. 2021 Dec 10;23(12):e34051. doi: 10.2196/34051.


Background: There are limited evidence-based strategies that have been shown to increase the rate at which peer-reviewed articles are cited. In a previously reported randomized controlled trial, we demonstrated that promotion of article links in an online cross-publisher distribution platform (TrendMD) persistently augments citation rates after 12 months, leading to a statistically significant 50% increase in citations relative to the control.

Objective: This study aims to investigate if the citation advantage of promoted articles upholds after 36 months.

Methods: A total of 3200 published articles in 64 peer-reviewed journals across 8 subject areas were block randomized at the subject level to either the TrendMD group (n=1600) or the control group (n=1600) of the study. Articles were promoted in the TrendMD Network for 6 months. We compared the citation rates in both groups after 36 months.

Results: At 36 months, we found the citation advantage endured; articles randomized to TrendMD showed a 28% increase in mean citations relative to the control. The difference in mean citations at 36 months for articles randomized to TrendMD versus the control was 10.52 (95% CI 3.79-17.25) and was statistically significant (P=.001).

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first randomized controlled trial to demonstrate how a postpublication article promotion intervention can be used to persistently augment citations of peer-reviewed articles. TrendMD is an efficient digital tool for knowledge translation and dissemination to targeted audiences to facilitate the uptake of research.

Keywords: digital knowledge translation; digital publishing; dissemination; e-publishing; infometrics; knowledge; knowledge translation; open access; scientometrics.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Peer Review*
  • Translational Science, Biomedical*