Altmetric Blog

2020 Altmetric Research Award winners to study science communication dynamics of pandemics

Stacy Konkiel, 21st July 2020

There’s little doubt that we are currently living in historic times. But what does the data from Facebook, blogs and news headlines on Covid-19 research tell us?  That’s what our 2020 Research Award winners hope to find out.

Our award winners are Dr Fabio Castro Gouveia, a scientometrics and altmetrics specialist at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil, and Dr Elaine Rabello, a researcher with dual appointments at the Institute of Social Medicine, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Wageningen University, Netherlands. 

Dr Fabio Castro Gouveia (left) and Dr Elaine Rabello (right) are the winners of the 2020 Altmetric Award for Promising Altmetrics Research

With the funding from Altmetric, they hope to understand the evolution of topics during the first six months of the Covid-19 pandemic in the titles of news, blogs and Facebook, and to be able to distinguish possible differences in science communication among these altmetrics sources.

The Altmetric Research Award was launched in 2016 to support groundbreaking altmetrics research worldwide. Fabio and Elaine are now among an international cohort of award winners who have studied topics such as research impact in public policy, Wikipedia, and WeChat, as well as developing altmetrics for creative arts faculty.

Speaking of their project, Fabio says, “Twitter is nowadays being overwhelmed by a narrative dispute regarding, not only, but especially, endorsements to treatments of Covid-19. In this scenario, we think that good sources of altmetrics data may be found on blogs, Facebook pages and news headlines. Support from Altmetric will be key to understanding the evolution on topics being discussed during the pandemic.”

As an example, Fabio cites the narrative proposed by US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, both advocates of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as a panacea for the disease. 

By understanding the dynamics of science and scientific communication, Fabio and Elaine hope that this can provide insight for better practices on models of communication with peers and society. The pair believes that altmetrics provide the opportunity to put science closer together with society, especially in a pandemic scenario. 

Project results will be shared on a forthcoming website dedicated to Covid-19 and Social Sciences, in addition to a short video  and social media promotion. Fabio and Elaine plan to publish the paper in an open access journal and release the code on GitHub.

Congratulations to Fabio and Elaine! 

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