Digital Science discovery platform 'will transform scholarly search'

Digital Science discovery platform 'will transform scholarly search'

Holtzbrinck technology company Digital Science has collaborated with high-profile universities and research funders to develop a platform, Dimensions, which it says will "democratise and transform scholarly search".

Six of Digital Science's portfolio companies - Altmetric, Digital Science Consultancy, Figshare, Readcube, Symplectic and UberResearch - have worked together on the platform, which promises to break down barriers to discovery and innovation, in a major project underway for the past 18 months and launching today (15th January).

The roster of international institutes and funders involved in helping develop Dimensions includes the universities of Cambridge, Canterbury and Exeter, Trinity College Dublin, Princeton, the University of Michigan, the Carnegie Mellon University, The Max Planck Digital Library, The Wellcome Trust and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Publishers Springer Nature, John Wiley, Taylor & Francis, Cambridge University Press, SAGE, Edinburgh and Liverpool UPs, Edward Elgar, MIT and a range of scholarly society publishers are also involved with the platform.

The original version of Dimensions was launched by Digital Science's UberResearch in 2014 and was designed primarily to meet the needs of funders, bringing together funded grant information from over 250 global funders. The new, greatly enhanced Dimensions integrates cross-disciplinary information on funded grants, publications and citations, almetric data, clinical trials, and patents. Within the Dimensions platform, 124 million formerly siloed documents, including 86 million articles and books and 34 million patents, are linked through 3.7 billion connections and contextualised with metrics and altmetrics. A total of 860 million academic citations are freely available, and there is one-click access to upwards of nine million Open Access articles.

Digital Science c.e.o. Daniel Hook (pictured) said: "The Dimensions project is a response to an urgent need for a more modern and inclusive research information platform, one which truly services the needs of both researchers and research institutions."

He told The Bookseller: "If you want to understand a research field: who is active in the field; what the funding landscape looks like; if papers in the field are being noticed in the media or in blogs or they are getting cited in patents; we are giving that broader picture."

Hook said: "Dimensions is not intended to be a bibliometric product, but rather a discovery product. It aims to connect researchers with scholarly output in the fewest clicks. We've worked hard to ensure that Open Access material is very easy to access, and if you are in an organisation with content subscriptions we will integrate with the local subscription database to ensure we also deliver articles to you in just one click. There are practical barriers in getting to content and streamlining that is important. Ensuring academics have access to the correct copyright version of articles is challenging right now."

He added: "We are taking analytics out of only being the purview of an institutions' C-suite and bringing it to the desktop of the researcher."

Individual researchers can access Dimensions for free; institutions pay for an advanced level of analytics and data "under a pricing model designed to reduce the strain on institutional budgets". Of the claim that the platform is "democratising" research, Hook noted: "There are certain market segments that would find it challenging to buy some of the commercial products currently available. We thought it was important that a scholarly-led tool was available to everybody - the public as well as the research community."

He added: "Some may view this as disruptive - some people will think that Dimensions is competing with [Elsevier's] Scopus and Web of Science. But, I think there is room to co-exist, Dimensions isn't a duplicate of any of the other systems and answers different questions. Until it launches [today], it's difficult to know how it will pan out."