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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Social Media Index: Measuring the Impact of Emergency Medicine and Critical Care Websites


Introduction: The number of educational resources created for emergency medicine and criticalcare (EMCC) that incorporate social media has increased dramatically. With no way to assess theirimpact or quality, it is challenging for educators to receive scholarly credit and for learners to identifyrespected resources. The Social Media index (SMi) was developed to help address this.

Methods: We used data from social media platforms (Google PageRanks, Alexa Ranks, FacebookLikes, Twitter Followers, and Google+ Followers) for EMCC blogs and podcasts to derive threenormalized (ordinal, logarithmic, and raw) formulas. The most statistically robust formula wasassessed for 1) temporal stability using repeated measures and website age, and 2) correlationwith impact by applying it to EMCC journals and measuring the correlation with known journalimpact metrics.

Results: The logarithmic version of the SMi containing four metrics was the most statistically robust.It correlated significantly with website age (Spearman r=0.372; p<0.001) and repeated measuresthrough seven months (r=0.929; p<0.001). When applied to EMCC journals, it correlated significantlywith all impact metrics except number of articles published. The strongest correlations were seenwith the Immediacy Index (r=0.609; p<0.001) and Article Influence Score (r=0.608; p<0.001).

Conclusion: The SMi’s temporal stability and correlation with journal impact factors suggests thatit may be a stable indicator of impact for medical education websites. Further study is needed todetermine whether impact correlates with quality and how learners and educators can best utilizethis tool. [West J Emerg Med. 2015;16(2):242–249.]

DOI: 10.5811/westjem.2015.1.24860

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