Measuring the impact of COVID-19 papers on the social web: an altmetric study

Metwaly Ali Mohamed Edakar, Ahmed Maher Khafaga Shehata*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The rapid spread and severity of the coronavirus (COVID-19) virus have prompted a spate of scholarly research that deals with the pandemic. The purpose of this study is to measure and assess the coverage of COVID-19 research on social media and the engagement of readers with COVID-19 research on social media outlets. Design/methodology/approach: An altmetric analysis was carried out in three phases. The first focused on retrieving all papers related to COVID-19. Phase two of the research aimed to measure the presence of the retrieved papers on social media using altmetric application programming interface (API). The third phase aimed to measure Mendeley readership categories using Mendeley API to extract data of readership from Mendeley for each paper. Findings: The study suggests that while social media platforms do not give accurate measures of the impact as given by citations, they can be used to portray the social impact of the scholarly outputs and indicate the effectiveness of COVID-19 research. The results confirm a positive correlation between the number of citations to articles in databases such as Scopus and the number of views on social media sites such as Mendeley and Twitter. The results of the current study indicated that social media could serve as an indicator of the number of citations of scientific articles. Research limitations/implications: This study’s limitation is that the studied articles’ altmetrics performance was examined using only one of the altmetrics data service providers (altmetrics database). Hence, future research should explore altmetrics on the topic using more than one platform. Another limitation of the current research is that it did not explore the academic social media role in spreading fake information as the scope was limited to scholarly outputs on social media. The practical contribution of the current research is that it informs scholars about the impact of social media platforms on the spread and visibility of COVID-19 research. Also, it can help researchers better understand the importance of published COVID-19 research using social media. Originality/value: This paper provides insight into the impact of COVID-19 research on social media. The paper helps to provide an understanding of how people engage with health research using altmetrics scores, which can be used as indicators of research performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalGlobal Knowledge, Memory and Communication
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 9 2021


  • Altmetrics
  • Citation indicators
  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Dimensions
  • Google Scholar
  • Mendeley
  • Research evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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