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Journals use social media to increase the awareness of their publications. Infographics show research findings in a concise and visually appealing manner, well suited for dissemination on social media platforms. We hypothesized that infographic abstracts promoted on social media would increase the dissemination and online readership of the parent research articles.
Twenty-four articles were chosen from the six issues of CJEM published between July 2016 and June 2017 and randomized to infographic or control groups. All articles were disseminated through the journal’s social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook). Control articles were promoted using a screen capture image of each article’s abstract on the journal’s social media accounts. Infographic articles were promoted similarly using a visual infographic. Infographics were also published and promoted on the CanadiEM.org’s website and social media channels. Abstract views, full-text views, and the change in Altmetric score were compared between groups using unpaired two-tailed t-tests.
There were no significant differences in the groups at baseline. Abstract views (mean, 95% CI) were higher in the infographics (379, 287-471) than the control group (176, 136-215, p<0.001). Mean change in Altmetric scores was higher in the infographics (26, 18-34) than in the control group (3, 2-4, p<0.0001). There was no difference in full-text views between the infographics (50, 0-101) and control groups (25, 18-32).
The promotion of CJEM articles using infographics on social media and the CanadiEM.org website increased Altmetric scores and abstract views. Infographics may have a role in increasing awareness of medical literature.
In 2015 and 2016, the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine (CJEM) Social Media (SoMe) Team collaborated with established medical websites to promote CJEM articles using podcasts and infographics while tracking dissemination and readership.
CJEM publications in the “Original Research” and “State of the Art” sections were selected by the SoMe Team for podcast and infographic promotion based on their perceived interest to emergency physicians. A control group was composed retrospectively of articles from the 2015 and 2016 issues with the highest Altmetric score that received standard Facebook and Twitter promotions. Studies on SoMe topics were excluded. Dissemination was quantified by January 1, 2017 Altmetric scores. Readership was measured by abstract and full-text views over a 3-month period. The number needed to view (NNV) was calculated by dividing abstract views by full-text views.
Twenty-nine of 88 articles that met inclusion were included in the podcast (6), infographic (11), and control (12) groups. Descriptive statistics (mean, 95% confidence interval) were calculated for podcast (Altmetric: 61, 42-80; Abstract: 1795, 1135-2455; Full-text: 431, 0-1031), infographic (Altmetric: 31.5, 19-43; Abstract: 590, 361-819; Full-text: 65, 33-98), and control (Altmetric: 12, 8-15; Abstract: 257, 159-354; Full-Text: 73, 38-109) articles. The NNV was 4.2 for podcast, 9.0 for infographic, and 3.5 for control articles.
Limitations included selection bias, the influence of SoMe promotion on the Altmetric scores, and a lack of generalizability to other journals.
Collaboration with established SoMe websites using podcasts and infographics was associated with increased Altmetric scores and abstract views but not full-text article views.