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Digital Science Report Identifies Differences in Online Audiences Engaging with Malaria and Alzheimer’s Disease

By Alex Jackson April 30, 2018

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

30 April 2018 — London, UK and Boston, US — A report released today by research technology company Digital Science 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”.

Unraveling the Engagement and Impact of Academic Research, the latest release in a series of Digital Science research reports, is available to download from:



Julia Giddings

About Digital Science

Digital Science is a technology company working to make research more efficient. We invest in, nurture and support innovative businesses and technologies that make all parts of the research process more open and effective. Our portfolio includes admired brands including Altmetric, Dimensions, Figshare, ReadCube, Symplectic, IFI Claims, GRID, Overleaf, Labguru, BioRAFT, PeerWith, TetraScience and Transcriptic. We believe that together, we can help researchers make a difference. Visit

About Altmetric

Altmetric was founded in 2011 and has made it a mission to track and analyze the online activity around scholarly literature. It collates what people are saying about published research outputs in sources such as the mainstream media, policy documents, social networks, blogs, and other scholarly and non-scholarly forums to provide a more robust picture of the influence and reach of scholarly work. Altmetric works with some of the biggest publishers, funders, R&D organizations and institutions around the world to deliver this data in an accessible and reliable format. Altmetric is part of the Digital Science portfolio. Find out more at

About Dimensions

Dimensions is a modern, innovative, linked research knowledge system that re-imagines discovery and access to research. Developed by Digital Science in collaboration with over 100 leading research organizations around the world, Dimensions brings together grants, publications, citations, alternative metrics, clinical trials and patents to deliver a platform that enables users to find and access the most relevant information faster, analyze the academic and broader outcomes of research, and gather insights to inform future strategy. Visit and follow on Twitter @DSDimensions.


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