This guest blog is written by Cathy Holland, Director, Global Publisher Business Development at Digital Science, a partner in the Silverchair Universe program.

Here at Digital Science we are no stranger to Badges. The iconic graphics posted on content pages give authors, publishers, and other relevant parties a window into metrics for that piece of content. Those of us in the industry have grown more familiar with them as they have become commonplace on many content pages, however some of us are still wondering about the difference between the types of Badges offered by Digital Science! We offer the details below to add clarity to this colorful conundrum.


Altmetric Badges were created in 2012 as the internet and social media rapidly became more sophisticated. Entire conversations about research content were happening on many platforms and these conversations were not taking place where the research was being published or accessed. Many organizations were not aware that the conversations about research were happening on social media, in the news, on important blogs or even being referenced in policy. Thus Altmetric was born in order to help authors and organizations understand what conversations were happening around research and to give a window into what was being said. Altmetric Badges let a person know all of these details in a colorful and easy-to-navigate manner. One click on the Badge icon gives users access to granular data about what is being said about content, which is exciting and informative!


At Digital Science we offer another set of Badges that are of interest to authors, readers, and editors of scholarly articles: the Dimensions Badges. The Dimensions Badges highlight the more traditional metric for scholarly content - Citations. One of the most interesting features of the Dimensions Badge is that they track more than just one citation metric. They track total citations, recent citations, field citation ration (FCR), relative citation ration (RCR), and even present a pie chart of the topical areas citing the work. Again, one click on the Badge icon allows review of all this granular data. It is worth noting that Dimensions Badges look similar to the Altmetric Badges because they are also colorful and built by the same team.  However, they give very different information. 

The Difference!

While these Badges appear rather similar, they give audiences very different types of information.  For example, Altmetric Badges provide a very early and immediate indicator in terms of what the community is saying about a piece of research, while the Dimensions Badges tell the long-term story of more formal citations. As you can see from the graph below, formal citations are one of the last metrics to appear for published research. Each type of metric has value and can help someone understand the full story about research.

See both metrics side by side

In many cases publishers decide to put both Badges together side by side to highlight all information to their audience and as an author service; an example on the Rockefeller University Press website can be seen below. Each Badge can be clicked on to see further details about either Altmetric attention or citations in the case of Dimensions Badges. It is also worth noting that some studies are starting to show a correlation with social attention and the downstream citation rate. The studies are just starting to look at the relationship between altmetrics and citations, but if research has a higher profile out in the world it stands to reason that it would be referenced more down stream. As such, long term, I think it is good to take both types of metrics into account.



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