Mass communication has undergone a "new media" revolution, which includes the rise of digital, online, and social media. The impact of new media on academic processes, however, has been underappreciated. The rise of Web-based virtual platforms has profoundly impacted the way plastic surgeons publish, store, exchange, and analyze scholarly biomedical information. This new media academic phenomenon refers to electronic mechanisms with the capacity to supplant traditional publication methods, which typically rely on printed documents in the physical domain. Although such tools can be efficient and user-friendly, they also make users vulnerable to exploitation. Notable examples reveal a relative lack of regulation, oversight, reliable rating scales, user authentication, and ethical accountability in the virtual space. As with any new technique, education is key and knowledge is power. In this article, online resources related to healthcare and the practice of plastic surgery are reviewed and summarized, including open access, mega-indices, whitelists, and electronic alerts. New media provides powerful knowledge-sharing tools that can help execute scholarly endeavors, communicate between professionals, and educate the public. However, it is essential for plastic surgeons to appreciate the caveats of new media academic processes to avoid unscrupulous practices of those that may seek to manipulate these Web-based systems. This article outlines the key pitfalls associated with online information streams to better inform plastic surgeons how to navigate new media-based scholarly processes.
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