As new developments emerge in research, so do new solutions that can help publishers uncover further insights.

Scholarly publishing has long-suffered from being in thrall to both institutions and individuals who have made a name for themselves in their fields. A frisson of excitement runs through every editor’s body when they realise they are publishing a paper from Harvard or Oxford, or from a world-leading authority at any other top university. Such publications will enhance the reputation of the journal, bring attention to the journal, and likely garner a large number of citations as one of the consequences.

However, scholarly publishing is changing because research is changing. Citations are being looked at more critically and single scores purporting to denote quality are actively being discouraged, with a blended approach using a range of data points much more in vogue. Provenance of research no longer means whether the author comes from a top school or has amassed vast piles of citations; it means they are a new voice, have original ideas, or aren’t following the same well-trodden paths as before in pursuing their research aims.

When a researcher starts out on their publication journey, in the past they will often have been forced down the road of publishing in Impact Factor journals, or journals on institutional lists put together by traditional-looking committees simply following their predecessors’ picks of top journals. Now, however, researchers have a much wider choice: they can operate at the article-level and not just the journal level to research their topics; they can choose content using a wide range of criteria to satisfy their new sense of provenance; they can invoke alternative metrics to bolster their decision-making. As such, for a publisher, identifying and attracting such authors has become both more important and more difficult using traditional means.

Luckily, help is at hand for publishers encountering these challenges. Those using Dimensions can get ahead of the competition with the ability to identify scholars emerging in their fields or representing diverse groups. This will bolster talent spotting for new authors, reviewers or editorial board members for their journals.

Example of a researcher profile in Dimensions.

Furthermore, utilizing Altmetric data can provide real-time updates on how published content is being utilized globally.

A snapshot of research outputs in Altmetric for the term climate change.

These powerful tools can allow users to get the best results by fully utilizing the unique data connections in Altmetric and Dimensions, which in turn enable them to draw out new insights. For example, a recent paper published by Digital Science CEO Daniel Hook, Dimensions CEO Christian Herzog and other authors presented the capability of Dimensions for ‘real-time bibliometrics’, and identified among other findings how the proportion of papers published by female authors had declined during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Extract from ‘Real-Time Bibliometrics: Dimensions as a Resource for Analyzing Aspects of COVID-19’ section 3.3 Gender Imbalances.
The bar chart shows the percentage change in the number of women appearing as co-authors on papers in global output.

As the authors themselves conclude:

In the face of the COVID-19 crisis is it precisely an analysis over months and weeks that is required to be able to track trends and to prepare well-informed policy and responses to policy. We refer to this approach to analysis as “real-time” bibliometrics. While it is clear that this approach has significant limitations in the perspective it can bring, we believe that it can also be seen as a useful tool in helping to pinpoint, quantify and respond to trends as they happen, for all stakeholders in the research ecosystem.” (Hook et al, 2021)

At a time when a global pandemic has highlighted to publishers the need to analyze developments in scholarship as they happen – the ‘real-time bibliometrics’ identified above – the ability to access a combination of full-text search, daily data outputs and article pre-prints can enable them to create competitive advantages drive their publishing programs forward. And leave some of the old ways far behind. 

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