Social media has become an important platform to access and share information globally. In academia, social media also has become a new way to publish research and share personal opinions. While some universities and departments require that their faculty members have a profile in social media and encourage them to have an active role, in general, is a personal choice to have a public profile. However, in an era of technology and social media, if research faculty wants to keep up with new research trends and have a broad audience for their research, they must have a public profile and contact with the public and other researchers.
Many researchers with a public profile in social media, have become famous and have a big number of followers. There are evidences that researchers with abundant followers will have more citations, maybe because they are reaching a bigger audience, or maybe because the public assumes that they are experts in a subject, without digging in their list of publications and achievements. The question is whether these researchers are famous for their research or just for their comments on social media?
I found an interesting 2014 article published in the journal Genome Biology, a peer-reviewed and open access journal of medicine. In that publication, the author’s argument is that some scientists have a big audience in social media, which does not mean they are the experts or authorities in a specific topic or field. He proposed a new metric “The Kardashian Index” to measure the real performance of scientists on social media as compared with their research achievements. While the author expressed that the study was done just for fun, it is interesting to see that the academic performance of a famous scientist could be due to his active participation in Twitter or they could have a mediocre research career. Indeed, the author compares these researchers with celebrity Kim Kardashian.
I will leave the link of this publication below in case if you want to read it (it is only 2 ½ pages long).
- Hall: The Kardashian index: a measure of discrepant social media profile for scientists. Genome Biology 2014 15:424. (doi:10.1186/s13059-014-0424-0) https://genomebiology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13059-014-0424-0?utm_source=Other_website&utm_medium=Website_links&utm_content=DaiDen-BMC-Genome_Biology-Biology-China&utm_campaign=BMCF_USG_BSCN_DD_GB_Index