Update 20th December 2017. @Scienmag appears to have been taken down for violating Twitter’s T&Cs. More when I find more. Been several comments from Scienmag supporters recently in the comments so it’ll be interesting to see if they stick around. One that I did allow to post had an account creation date if Dec 2017 so it looks like a bit of a rearguard action…
So here’s the thing. A few people have been tweeting sciencey-looking articles into my timeline of late, which come from the website scienmag.com which bills itself as Science Magazine, and the Twitter account of the same name, @scienmag with the name Science.
I recently stopped following this account for a number of reasons, chief amongst them being that they are clearly trading off the name of the well-respected scientific journal/magazine Science. The latter, published by the AAAS famously uses the web address http://www.sciencemag.org and the Twitter handle @sciencemagazine, as in the early days of the commercial internet for one reason or another, science.com was already taken, and similarly, in the early days of Twitter @science was quickly snapped up.
Now most scientists I know do not get the two confused, but every now and then, even quite prominent scientists forget and RT articles from Scienmag. In fact when I started on Twitter one of the accounts I started to follow was @scienmag, thinking it was the real deal. I soon learnt it wasn’t but was too lazy to unfollow them.
But the main reason that I dislike @scienmag, and the final prompt for me to unfollow is that it seems to take science stories from various sources, often press releases about new research, and publishes them verbatim or near enough on their website, but annoyingly nearly never provides the link to the actual research article in question.
Why would they do this? Well it all comes down to the commercial web page principle of eyeball residence time. Basically websites that make their money selling advertising space never want you to leave their site by anything but a sponsored ad (usually Google ads). In fact, the only links off the page you may have arrived at are ones going to other Scienmag stories, or ads. What we as scientists want to do of course is get to the actual science as fast as possible, so we would likely just click on the actual journal link and leave their webpage behind. Thus creating a very low eyeball residence time, and therefore less ad dollars for them.
Take this example that crossed my Twitter timeline this evening. It was a retweet of a quote tweet that linked to a Scienmag page about survivors of pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma studied at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and their long-term disease burden.
And as you can see it looks like an original magazine article, complete with quoted scientists that you might be led to believe were actually interviewed by the journalist. But there is no link to the Lancet Oncology article under discussion.
So I went to the St Judes web page and looked around for their press release on this subject and found this, that is strikingly similar to the “story” at Scienmag:
Except that this time, there actually is a link to the real published article at Lancet Oncology.