We analyze the online response of the scientific community to the preprint
publication of scholarly articles. We employ a cohort of 4,606 scientific
articles submitted to the preprint database arXiv.org between October 2010 and
April 2011. We study three forms of reactions to these preprints: how they are
downloaded on the arXiv.org site, how they are mentioned on the social media
site Twitter, and how they are cited in the scholarly record. We perform two
analyses. First, we analyze the delay and time span of article downloads and
Twitter mentions following submission, to understand the temporal configuration
of these reactions and whether significant differences exist between them.
Second, we run correlation tests to investigate the relationship between
Twitter mentions and both article downloads and article citations. We find that
Twitter mentions follow rapidly after article submission and that they are
correlated with later article downloads and later article citations, indicating
that social media may be an important factor in determining the scientific
impact of an article.