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Is Your Favorite Blog Any Good? New Digital Impact Factor Can Help

May 4, 2023

Written by Clay Smith

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The Digital Impact Factor is a way to objectively determine the impact, quality, reach, and consistency of free emergency medicine and critical care blogs and podcasts.

Why does this matter?
Academic Life in EM previously ranked EM/critical care blogs by ‘Social Media Index (SMI),’ but a key website impact metric (Alexa Traffic) was deprecated. The new ALiEM Digital Impact Factor (DIF) used a different site ‘authority’ score (Ahrefs) plus social media audience size. The DIF may help determine, along with your gestalt, what educational blogs are worth reading. Plus, it could make the impact of ‘digital scholarship’ more objective for academic promotion purposes.

Digital Impact Factor – please tell me I don’t have to dance on Tik Tok
Authors compiled a list of 88 ‘active’ EM or critical care blogs or podcasts (in English) and used a very complicated formula to calculate a weighted, normalized, ranked DIF for each. Most were based in the US. The new DIF compared well with the prior SMI. However, there are some issues with the DIF. First of all, I wasn’t able to identify 2 blogs* (‘Pediatric Education’ and ‘Physician Assistant in Education’) that ranked above JournalFeed, and 7 more blogs above us were no longer actively posting. Ahrefs focuses heavily on backlinks to the site to determine its ‘authority.’ This is a good but incomplete proxy of current site impact. A site with prior search engine optimization strategies could coast as a high ranking ‘zombie’ for years, with just 2 posts of any kind per year, by this methodology. The DIF also heavily weights social media followership. Friends, I just can’t do SoMe. I don’t have time or desire to promote the social media presence of JF. So, I am going to have to accept this will be lower for JF. Twitter makes me sad, feels toxic, and its reputation is suffering. The Twitter blue checkmark is now considered by some as an emblem of desperation, not reputation. Facebook is also a place I just can’t go. It feels like too much cheese-whiz, drama and bluster. I can’t dance, so JF on Tik Tok is a bust. If anyone is interested in being a JF SoMe guru, I am all ears! Anyway, there has to be a way to rank EM/CC blogs, and the ALiEM team has done a good job. Nothing is going to be perfect. At least JF is listed this year – that’s a happy thing!

*This is my ignorance, not the fault of the DIF.

Digital Impact Factor: A Quality Index for Educational Blogs and Podcasts in Emergency Medicine and Critical Care. Ann Emerg Med. 2023 Mar 24;S0196-0644(23)00119-1. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2023.02.011. Online ahead of print.

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