From Cat Williams (CMO, Altmetric & Dimensions)
If you’re a journal Editor, then it’s likely that these 3 questions have crossed your mind at some point:
- How is my journal performing compared to others?
- What research, scholars or trends are emerging in my discipline?
- How can we best position the journal for future success?
The challenges Editors face today are not just about which papers to publish, but who to recruit to Editorial boards, which direction to take the scope of their titles in, whether special issues on particular topics should be considered, and, of course, the biggest of all: is their content having an impact in their field, or beyond?
The amount of data and tools now available to help determine potential answers to these must often feel overwhelming. Different numbers tell often very different, and sometimes even contradictory, stories, and new technologies can give an entirely different perspective to the research landscape.
This is exactly what Dimensions and Altmetric aim to do — in a good way. By bringing together over 128 million research documents (over 90 million of which are publications), surfacing the links between them and providing filters through which to assess their impacts, timelines, and position relative to their field, combined, these two platforms provide a powerful tool that Editors can use to their benefit.
Tracing the impacts of published content
This one is easy. A quick search in even the free version of Dimensions will immediately show you the citation count and Altmetric Attention Score for any indexed publication. Those familiar with altmetrics will recognize the benefits that the immediacy of this data can bring – being able to track the online engagement surrounding a paper from the moment it’s published makes it possible to see how the paper is being received, provide more timely feedback to the authors, and inform things like further promotional efforts.
Digging further into the data via the Altmetric Explorer platform enables you to pull out the attention that you are most keen to see – whether it’s examples of influence on public policy, attention from specific social communities, or academic interest from scholars in a particular field or part of the world.
The citation data provided by Dimensions is also unique: an overall citation count gives an indication of the eventual academic impact of the article, and further context is added by metrics such as the Field Citation Ratio and Average Citation Rate.
Tracking these metrics, for your journal and others in the discipline, will help you monitor the impact and performance of your content over time, and can be used to determine where your journal sits within the bigger scholarly landscape.
Keeping an eye on the future
Being able to track the influence of published articles is only a small part of the story, though. Long before the point of publication grants are being awarded, trials conducted and associated datasets or early research outcomes made available.
Dimensions enables you to explore these in a dynamic way. Within the platform, you can see what key funding key researchers in a discipline are receiving; identify which research areas are receiving a growing number of grants; track clinical trials at each stage, and predict tomorrow’s trends and hot topics.
Having this more comprehensive view across the research lifecycle provides a much more robust set of data on which to base editorial decisions – and can be used to inform activities such as which special issues to publish, how to expand or refine the scope of the journal, or where to commission pieces on specific topics.
Spotting the unique opportunities
Making your journal stand out from the crowd and ensuring the articles within get the visibility they need is an ongoing challenge for any publisher. Altmetrics further highlight where an item receives attention beyond the academy – which can be a useful indicator for readers but also serves a purpose for Editors.
Finding new reviewers and Editorial Board members is never an easy task. Key functionality within Altmetric and Dimensions means you can easily identify not just who from the academic community is already citing or discussing content you’ve published (and therefore might be a suitable candidate), but can also be used to highlight conflicts of interest or identify scholars from related fields who might be able to contribute something new.
By analyzing affiliation data it’s also possible to explore new opportunities for institutional partnerships – perhaps there is an institution who are suddenly developing rapidly in your field or a department whose work seems to be well aligned with the mission of your publication. Having immediate access to these insights means you can make a more informed decision about where to invest your time.
Critical to answering the big questions journals face is recognizing that they do not stand alone – they are part of a much bigger ecosystem, of which no single element can operate successfully in isolation. With Dimensions and Altmetric, we aim to break down barriers to innovation and put the information where it is needed most: in the hands of the people who can make a difference.