Public Health Research in the News: An Exploratory Study of Topics, Coverage, and Open Access Status




Altmetrics, Public Health, News, mentions in news, open access, public engagement, information dissemination, health news, health communication


Objectives: This study aims to identify and analyze the news outlets that reference research published by the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (FSPH). We analyzed the overall patterns of news sources, including the content type and overall coverage, the correlation with open access (OA) status, and the topics that received more attention in online news stories. We aim to contribute to a better understanding of the characteristics of news outlets that disseminate public health information, and the types of public health research referenced most often in the news.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study. The study population consisted of FSPH authors, the exposure was publishing journal articles by FSPH authors, and the outcome was news media attention. We compared the amount of media attention with other
studies. We also compared open access journals versus commercially produced journals. We searched the Scopus database using an affiliation search to locate and retrieve the journal articles. Then we queried the Altmetric Explorer tool (altmetrics provider) for all the citations resulting from the Scopus search. We conducted a bibliometric analysis of publications from authors affiliated with the school of public health over five years (2015–2019). The searches were conducted in December 2021. We used the identifiers and the titles to compile the online news mention data and identify the titles featured in news outlets. The journal articles with news mentions and the news outlets that reference them were analyzed. The data were combined, cleaned up, and analyzed using Excel, and the subject analysis was produced using the VOSviewer software.

Results: For the 2015–2019 time frame, 778 publications were published by the FSPH. A total of 144 (18.5%) were highlighted in 2,079 online news stories from 655 news outlets. We analyzed the overall dataset of news outlets according to the source, content type, subject area, and country of publication. We also determined the attention likelihood of open access articles compared to those with closed access. We performed a co-occurrence analysis of the MeSH terms the articles featured in news outlets.

Discussion: Mentions in online news outlets can identify patterns and trends of attention and interest in research beyond academia. This bibliometric analysis helps to clarify the media outlets that distribute information on public health as well as the categories of research that are frequently featured in the media. The findings of this report, will help the library expand its research impact services and support the decision-making of leaders of public health schools for future publication and research strategy development directions.

Author Biographies

Mirian Ramirez, Ruth Lilly Medical Library, Indiana University School of Medicine



Rachel J. Hinrichs, University Library, Indiana University




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How to Cite

Ramirez, M., & Hinrichs, R. (2024). Public Health Research in the News: An Exploratory Study of Topics, Coverage, and Open Access Status. Hypothesis: Research Journal for Health Information Professionals, 36(1).





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