Scholarly Sharing via Twitter: #icanhazpdf Requests for Health Sciences Literature


  • Michelle Swab Memorial University
  • Kristen Romme Memorial University



icanhazpdf, information-seeking behaviour, social media, Twitter


Introduction: Although requesting access to journal articles and books via colleagues and authors is a long-established academic practice, websites and social media platforms have broadened the scope and visibility of academic literature sharing among researchers. On Twitter, the #icanhazpdf hashtag has emerged as a way for researchers to request and obtain journal articles quickly and efficiently. This study analyzes use of the #icanhazpdf hashtag as a means of obtaining health sciences literature. Methods: RowFeeder software was used to monitor and aggregate #icanhazpdf requests between 1 February and 30 April 2015. This software records data such as Twitter handle, tweet content, tweeter location, date, and time. Tweets were hand-coded for the journal subject area, the requestor’s geographic location, and the requestor’s occupational sector. Results: There were 302 requests for health sciences literature during the study period. Many requests were made by users affiliated with a post-secondary academic institution (45%, n = 136). Very few requests were made by users located in Canada (n = 15). Conclusion: #icanhazpdf requests for health sciences literature account for a relatively small proportion of peer-to-peer article sharing activities when compared with other online platforms. Nevertheless, this study provides evidence that some faculty and students are choosing social media over the library as a means of obtaining health sciences literature. Examining peer-to-peer article sharing practices can provide insights into patron behaviour and expectations.


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How to Cite

Swab, M., & Romme, K. (2016). Scholarly Sharing via Twitter: #icanhazpdf Requests for Health Sciences Literature. Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association Journal De l’Association Des bibliothèques De La Santé Du Canada, 37(1).



Research Articles