Responding to calls to take a more active role in communicating their research findings, scientists are increasingly using open online platforms, such as Twitter, to engage in science communication or to publicize their work. Given the ease with which misinformation spreads on these platforms, it is important for scientists to present their findings in a manner that appears credible. To examine the extent to which the online presentation of science information relates to its perceived credibility, we designed and conducted two surveys on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. In the first survey, participants rated the credibility of science information on Twitter compared with the same information in other media, and in the second, participants rated the credibility of tweets with modified characteristics: presence of an image, text sentiment, and the number of likes/retweets. We find that similar information about scientific findings is perceived as less credible when presented on Twitter compared to other platforms, and that perceived credibility increases when presented with recognizable features of a scientific article. On a platform as widely distrusted as Twitter, use of these features may allow researchers who regularly use Twitter for research-related networking and communication to present their findings in the most credible formats.
Peer Review: https://publons.com/publon/10.1162/qss_a_00151