‘Unraveling the Engagement and Impact of Academic Research’ uses Altmetric data to contrast community reaction to research in key therapeutic areas

Our report finds new evidence that highlights differences in the primary audiences engaging with malaria and Alzheimer’s disease research, respectively.

The study, which was conducted by the consultancy team at Digital Science, concluded that policy makers make up the primary community engaging with Malaria research, whilst practitioners and mainstream news outlets were most prominent for Alzheimer’s disease.

By combining grant, publication, patent and clinical trial records from Dimensions, a linked research insights platform, with attention data from Altmetric, which tracks the online shares and discussion surrounding published research, the authors demonstrate a new community detection approach for modelling data. The report tracks topics and influencers across global news outlets, policy sources, blogs, social media, academic forums and other online networks.

In doing so, it provides a unique insight into how publishers, research organizations and pharmaceutical companies can monitor the engagement relating to a particular topic, drug or therapeutic area, enabling them to:

  • Uncover channels of impact that extend beyond conventional scholarly indicators
  • Understand the synergies between different communities and create a new understanding of who engages with research published
  • Identify communities and the vectors that they use to disseminate and discuss research
  • Support practical approaches to quantify and understand the type of attention attracted by a piece of research
  • Determine whether certain research articles have reached their intended audiences

Martin Szomszor, lead author on the study and Consultant Data Scientist at Digital Science, comments:

“By combining these data, we have been able to demonstrate a new way to enhance our understanding of who is engaging with research in a specific field. In doing so, we seek to further the discussion of the relevance of non-scholarly indicators of influence, and introduce an alternative approach that will benefit the research community.”

CEO of Digital Science, Daniel Hook adds:

“Research garners an increasing amount of attention from the public and from professionals outside the research community, and with social media we have a new window into that interest. In conducting this research project, we have uncovered novel insights that pave the way to new approaches to evaluate and disseminate the impact of scholarly work”.