‘Wild west’ of social media for medical journals needs more support to succeed

Northwestern Now: Summaries

Much of the published medical research goes unread by the general public and medical community, despite being largely funded by the federal government and private foundations. To reach more people, medical journals have begun using social media to promote new research. A new Northwestern Medicine study has found social media editors lack established best practices and support from their journals and home institutions, making it difficult for them to successfully promote new research. In general, the median citation rate for journal articles — when one paper refers to another paper — is zero, meaning a lot of new research isn’t being read even in the medical community. If utilized correctly, social media could help journals increase awareness of new research, according to the study. But first, social media editors need more resources and support. Our study found journals didn’t really know what these people should be doing. They would tell new editors to ‘take this job and do what you can with it.’ It’s the wild west.”Dr. Seth TruegerAssistant professor of emergency medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine“American tax dollars are paying for research the public never hears about,” said senior author Dr. Seth Trueger, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a practicing physician at Northwestern Medicine. “I’m optimistic we can get the word out through social media, but we first need to explore and develop tried-and-true methods to distribute this information to the public.” Study authors urge medical journals to define social media editor roles and responsibilities more clearly and provide more resources to social media editors.The study was published this week in the journal Academic Medicine. It is the first study to examine this specific role of social media editor at medical journals. Journals may be able to help social media editors to …

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