February 16, 2018

Digital Science Launches Dimensions Platform with Free Discovery for OA, Citations

Screenshot of app.dimensions.aiLondon-based research technology company Digital Science on January 15 debuted Dimensions, a citation database, discovery platform, and research analytics suite that links 3.6 billion connections between 124 million documents including academic articles, monographs, patents, clinical trials, funded grants, policy documents, and more. The free core version of the platform (at app.dimensions.ai) delivers one-click access to over nine million open access (OA) articles, as well as 860 million abstracts and citations, accompanied with top line altmetrics information from Digital Science subsidiary Altmetric.

“Today, citation data is extremely expensive…. Our goal is to make that level of information, or better, available at no cost,” Stephen Leicht, co-founder of ÜberResearch and COO of Digital Science, Discovery and Analytics Group, told LJ. “Researchers don’t have to log in, they don’t have to have a .edu [email] address,” although users do have the option to create a free account in order to save searches and perform other basic research management functions, Leicht said.

Dimensions Plus, a paid version of the platform with tiered, annual subscriptions priced according to an institution’s research output, also provides full access to the platform’s underlying content, including 34 million patents, 300,000 clinical trials, and 3.6 million awarded grants, along with more detailed Altmetric data and expanded filtering and search functionality by content type. Institutional subscribers also can provide users with one-click access to licensed full-text content via Shibboleth, and are given access to the Dimensions API, which enables Dimensions data to be integrated into other systems.

Dimensions Analytics, another paid version targeted at publishers and funding organizations, includes all of the features of Dimensions Plus, along with additional reporting, visualization, and workflow support features.

“With its inclusion of publications, grants, patents, and clinical trials, the new Dimensions promises to be a worthy competitor in scope—both qualitatively and quantitatively—to our industry standard-bearers Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar,” David Lowe, research data librarian, Florida Institute of Technology said in a statement. “As a resource, it features such innovations as forward-thinking metrics (including Altmetric scores and ranking options) along with more traditional features (such as bibliographic citation listing and downloading, as well as citation count data) of interest to academic librarians who specialize in scholarly communication, institutional and discipline-specific repositories, academic publishing, departmental liaison interaction, and more.”

In a post on The Scholarly Kitchen, Roger Schonfeld, director, Library and Scholarly Communication Program for Ithaka S+R, also described the new platform as offering “stiff new competition” for Elsevier’s Scopus and Clarivate’s Web of Science.

The “free version includes much of the functionality of Scopus and Web of Science, enough that it may undercut them at some types of institutions,” Schonfeld wrote. “Digital Science CEO [Daniel] Hook emphasized to me that the underlying citation data ‘are a commodity and should be made as freely available as possible. Where one should make a margin is by innovating on top.’”

An earlier version of Dimensions—launched by ÜberResearch in 2014 shortly after Digital Science invested in the company—focused primarily on the needs of research funders, and included grant information from 250 funding organizations, along with publications from PubMed. Representing a significant enhancement in terms of underlying data and technology, the new, overhauled Dimensions platform was developed during the past two years in collaboration with Digital Science subsidiaries ÜberResearch, Altmetric, Figshare, Readcube, Symplectic (Elements Research Information Management System), and DS Consultancy, along with more than 100 universities and funding bodies, including the University of Cambridge, the University of Michigan, and the National Institutes of Health. Dimensions also incorporates technology and/or data from other Digital Science companies, including GRID Global Research Identifier Database, and IFI Claims Patent Services.

“Back in 2010, the group that owns MacMillan and Nature Publishing Group [MacMillan Science and Education / Holtzbrinck Publishing Group] spun out…Digital Science to invest in small, innovative, disruptive companies,” Leicht explained. “And in 2016, we brought a number of those companies together, really oriented around this project.”

Sara Rouhi, Director of Engagement and Advocacy for Digital Science, told LJ that advances in technology had enabled Digital Science to offer the free version of Dimensions and create what the company is describing as a “sustainable” pricing model for institutional subscriptions (reported by Schonfeld to be between $10,000 and $30,000).

“The mission was always to have a free option—a free version of this that would solve many of the basic needs of researchers,” she said. “We’re really leveraging AI, natural language processing, and then manual curation by a data science unit within Digital Science to do as much of this in an automated way as possible…and then transferring those savings back to the community, either in terms of free access, or access at a fraction” of the cost of many abstracting and indexing databases.

Matt Enis About Matt Enis

Matt Enis (menis@mediasourceinc.com; @matthewenis on Twitter) is Senior Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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