The world of data analytics has come a long way from reading your favourite journal or counting citations. But has it come so far that we can effectively see the future? Welcome to the magical world of DOLs, KOLs and Unicorns.

Sir Winston Churchill famously said that “the farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” Unfortunately, the former UK prime minister did not have access to the latest data analytics tools, that can already provide real-time information to researchers. But what is next in store with cutting-edge platforms such as Dimensions?

One man in the know is Mike Taylor, who is Head of Data Insights at Digital Science and was recently able to lift the lid on the new KOL dashboard launching this year.

Using the combined power of Dimensions and Altmetric data, we are now able to identify up-and-coming key opinion leaders – otherwise known as KOLs – and digital opinion leaders (DOLs), but not by looking back ‘farther back’ as Churchill commented, but by looking at the most recent data and trends.

“The work we have been doing has centered around reconciling two databases that are not linked, e.g. Simon Linacre might be a thought leader in academic AND online community spaces. But how do you know if it’s the same person?” says Mike.

“Our Dimensions dashboard can already surface KOLs on academic work brilliantly, but two years ago we started to match all Twitter users with Dimensions authors, which was a real slog. Then we had a breakthrough in 2022, and we now have a six-figure number list of academics who tweet.

“The data is very accurate and clean. What it means is that we can, at scale, report on what happens with academics on social media.” Mike adds: “If academics on Twitter can say something about a topic they have authority, and authority has impact. It’s very exciting.”

In practice, what this will mean for Dimensions customers is that they will have the ability not only to find those emerging KOLs and DOLs, but also identify unicorns – those rare academics that have a wider sphere of influence than just academia.

The future is not behind us, it is right in front of us using integrated data analytics with Dimensions. 

Learn more about our KOL and Rising Star dashboard: