Infographics Are More Effective at Increasing Social Media Attention in Comparison With Original Research Articles: An Altmetrics-Based Analysis


      To compare social media attention and citation rates between infographics (visual abstracts) and original research articles.


      All infographics in 2019 from electronic versions of Arthroscopy were matched by topic to articles in the “Original Research” section of the journal in a 4:1 ratio within the same year. The primary outcome was the Altmetric Attention Score (AAS), a cumulative measure of social media attention from various platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Secondary outcomes included citation rates, article characteristics, and number of shares on social media platforms. Independent t tests and χ2 analyses were used to compare primary and secondary outcomes between infographics and control articles. Multivariate linear regression analysis was performed to determine the association between article type and social media attention while controlling for bibliometric characteristics.


      A total of 60 matched research articles (n = 48, 80.0%) and infographics (n = 12, 20.0%) published in 2019 in Arthroscopy were included. The mean AAS among all infographics was 29.75 ± 32.84 (range, 3-118), whereas the mean AAS among all control research articles was 5.75 ± 8.90 (range, 0-41), representing a statistically significant difference (P < .001). Infographics had significantly more Twitter mentions (100% vs 70.8%, P < .001) and Facebook mentions (75% vs. 6.2%, P < .001) compared with original articles. Multivariate linear regression analysis demonstrated a statistically significant and positive association between AAS and article type, with an additional mean increase in the AAS of 33.7 (95% confidence interval 11.6-50.6; P = .003) for every infographic article compared with an original research article. The mean citation rate among all infographics was 2.4 ± 2.4 (range, 0-7), whereas the mean citation rate among all control research articles was 2.2 ± 4.0 (range, 0-27), which was not a significant difference (P = .69).


      Infographics resulted in significantly greater AAS and social media attention in comparison with original research articles of similar topics. We recommend the routine creation of infographics by journals to increase the social media attention that their research and chosen topics of interest receive. However, viewers of infographics should read them out of interest but turn their attention toward the original article or a source of more detailed information before making changes in clinical decision-making or practice, as they can be oversimplified.

      Clinical Relevance

      Infographics are an increasingly used by journals as a form of depicting research findings from select studies. By producing infographics, journals may increase the amount of social media attention received for a particular study or topic of interest.
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