Popularity and/or substance

From Scientific America, they’ve got a mapping strategy that identifies papers that got a big “traditional” splash (the news, research blogs, Mendeley citations, etc) vs those that make a splash on social media. The image below is the result, which is from this article.

Anyone who “does science” knows that things that make a huge media splash sometimes don’t have the most science content. In the diagram below I have a feeling that if you do this historically (well, as much as one can since social media is relatively new), that you’d have a further separation between “papers with lots of citations” and “papers with lots of media coverage”. You hope to have both, but sometimes getting the right headline (or making the right awesome video, like the folks at Goddard did for this year’s Eta Carinae periastron passage) is more about finding the puzzle than it is about finding the answer.


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