October 25, 2021

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

New online software ‘Dimensions’ provides more insight into how and why scientific research is funded ...


Online software Dimensions was recently launched at the Times Higher Education Summit in Singapore.

The new software was the result of a collaboration between technology company Digital Science and research systems developer Symplectic.

It incorporates data from the major government funding bodies in Australia, the UK and the US with the aim of helping users “explore, analyse and understand international research funding”.

Director of Research Metrics at Digital Science, Daniel Hook, said the web-based tool has the ability “to uncover collaboration opportunities,” and provide data visualisations of funding allocation. These would inform the strategic direction of an institution and potentially maximise its chance of making successful grant applications.

There is little doubt that these two companies have the credentials to produce a successful system: Symplectic’s software, Elements, helps to improve research visibility and is already used at world leading institutions like the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Pennsylvania and Melbourne. Digital Science is part of Macmillan Science & Education, one the largest and best known international publishing groups.

In the cut-throat world of research grants, this novel method of understanding funding trends is likely to be welcomed by the scientific community. In their ‘Who’s afraid of the peer review?’ article, the journal Science exposed open access journals by deceiving them into publishing spoof articles from non-existent institutions that contained erroneous scientific methodology.

The Science article emphasizes that an institutions’ strength can no longer be determined solely by the amount of research published by its scientists. This new software Dimensions provides a more detailed analysis of funding and publication habits, and so may help to make the landscape for research funding more accessible and transparent.