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Conferences are designed for knowledge translation, but traditional conference evaluations are inadequate. We lack studies that explore alternative metrics to traditional evaluation metrics. We sought to determine how traditional evaluation metrics and Twitter metrics performed using data from a conference of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP).
This study used a retrospective design to compare social media posts and tradition evaluations related to an annual specialty conference. A post (“tweet”) on the social media platform Twitter was included if it associated with a session. We differentiated original and discussion tweets from retweets. We weighted the numbers of tweets and retweets to comprise a novel Twitter Discussion Index. We extracted the speaker score from the conference evaluation. We performed descriptive statistics and correlation analyses.
Of a total of 3,804 tweets, 2,218 (58.3%) were session-specific. Forty-eight percent (48%) of all sessions received tweets (mean = 11.7 tweets; 95% CI of 0 to 57.5; range, 0–401), with a median Twitter Discussion Index score of 8 (interquartile range, 0 to 27). In the 111 standard presentations, 85 had traditional evaluation metrics and 71 received tweets (p > 0.05), while 57 received both. Twenty (20 of 71; 28%) moderated posters and 44% (40 of 92) posters or oral abstracts received tweets without traditional evaluation metrics. We found no significant correlation between Twitter Discussion Index and traditional evaluation metrics (R = 0.087).
We found no correlation between traditional evaluation metrics and Twitter metrics. However, in many sessions with and without traditional evaluation metrics, audience created real-time tweets to disseminate knowledge. Future conference organizers could use Twitter metrics as a complement to traditional evaluation metrics to evaluate knowledge translation and dissemination.
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