An Exploratory Study of Medical Journal’s Twitter Use: Metadata, Networks, and Content Analyses

Donghun Kim, Woojin Jung, Ting Jiang, Yongjun Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: An increasing number of medical journals are using social media to promote themselves and communicate with their readers. However, little is known about how medical journals use Twitter and what their social media management strategies are. Objective: This study aimed to understand how medical journals use Twitter from a global standpoint. We conducted a broad, in-depth analysis of all the available Twitter accounts of medical journals indexed by major indexing services, with a particular focus on their social networks and content. Methods: The Twitter profiles and metadata of medical journals were analyzed along with the social networks on their Twitter accounts. Results: The results showed that overall, publishers used different strategies regarding Twitter adoption, Twitter use patterns, and their subsequent decisions. The following specific findings were noted: journals with Twitter accounts had a significantly higher number of publications and a greater impact than their counterparts; subscription journals had a slightly higher Twitter adoption rate (2%) than open access journals; journals with higher impact had more followers; and prestigious journals rarely followed other lesser-known journals on social media. In addition, an in-depth analysis of 2000 randomly selected tweets from 4 prestigious journals revealed that The Lancet had dedicated considerable effort to communicating with people about health information and fulfilling its social responsibility by organizing committees and activities to engage with a broad range of health-related issues; The New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association focused on promoting research articles and attempting to maximize the visibility of their research articles; and the British Medical Journal provided copious amounts of health information and discussed various health-related social problems to increase social awareness of the field of medicine. Conclusions: Our study used various perspectives to investigate how medical journals use Twitter and explored the Twitter management strategies of 4 of the most prestigious journals. Our study provides a detailed understanding of medical journals’ use of Twitter from various perspectives and can help publishers, journals, and researchers to better use Twitter for their respective purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere43521
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©Donghun Kim, Woojin Jung, Ting Jiang, Yongjun Zhu.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Informatics


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