A bibliometric evaluation of the impact of theories of consciousness in academia and on social media

Andy Wai Kan YEUNG, Cody A. CUSHING, Alan L.F. LEE*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Consciousness science has faced both opportunities and challenges in recent years. Some popular theories of consciousness have been described as unfalsifiable and some as “overpromoted”. To objectively evaluate the state of consciousness science as a field, we analyzed bibliometric data for five major theories of consciousness: Global workspace (GWT), Higher-order (HOT), Integrated information (IIT), Local recurrent (LRT), and Quantum theories (QT). We analyzed academic publications, citations, and Twitter activity for each theory. We found that IIT had the highest growth rates in quantity metrics (e.g. publication and citation counts) but was worse in quality metrics (e.g., per-publication citations, proportion of citations with empirical support/contradiction). On social media, IIT and QT were the most-tweeted theories, but their tweets mostly came from the general public. Our findings suggest that a theory’s fast growth in quantity and lack of quality could be explained by its overpromotion on social media.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103296
Number of pages14
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Early online date2 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Hakwan Lau, Matthias Michel, and Mouslim Cherkaoui for their constructive comments during the draft of this paper. This work was supported by the University Grant Council and Lingnan University to AL [Research Matching Grant, 185218]. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022

Copyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier Inc.


  • Bibliometrics
  • Consciousness
  • Consciousness theories
  • Metascience
  • Social media
  • Social Media
  • Humans


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