To assess the relationship of individual article citations in the Sport Sciences field to (i) journal impact factor; (ii) each article’s open access status; and (iii) Altmetric score components.
We searched the ISI Web of Knowledge InCites Journal Citation Reports database “Sport Sciences” category for the 20 journals with the highest 2-year impact factor in 2018. We extracted the impact factor for each journal and each article’s open access status (yes or no). Between September 2019 and February 2020, we obtained individual citations, Altmetric scores and details of Altmetric components (e.g. number of tweets, Facebook posts, etc.) for each article published in 2017. Linear and multiple regression models were used to assess the relationship between the dependent variable (citation number) and the independent variables article Altmetric score and open access status, and journal impact factor.
4,022 articles were included. Total Altmetric score, journal impact factor and open access status, respectively explained 32%, 14%, and 1% of the variance in article citations (when combined, the variables explained 40% of the variance in article citations). The number of tweets related to an article was the Altmetric component that explained the highest proportion of article citations (37%).
Altmetric scores in Sports Sciences journals have a stronger relationship with number of citations than does journal impact factor or open access status. Twitter may be the best social media platform to promote a research article as it has a strong relationship with article citations.