This article examines the public communication of COVID-19-related ‘preprints’ (unreviewed research studies) in a digital media environment. To understand how preprint research flows from preprint server, to media story, to social media audience, we analysed engagement with ‘second-order citations’—social media posts linking to media coverage of research—using a sample of 41 media stories published by the research amplifier platform The Conversation (TC) that mentioned preprint research during the early months of the pandemic. We applied content analyses to the Facebook and Twitter accounts sharing these stories and analysed the engagement that the posts received. We found that TC stories mentioning preprints were shared among a diverse collection of Facebook and Twitter accounts, providing a second layer of social media amplification of preprint research. Still, posts by a small proportion of “elite” actors—people with prominent roles in media and communications, politics, or academia—tended to generate more engagement.
Media International Australia
Academic explanatory journalism and emerging COVID-19 science: How social media accounts amplify The Conversation’s preprint coverage
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