Facebook for Researchers

As promised, continuing on from last weeks blog, this week we delve into a social media application that is specifically for science and researchers.

ResearchGate is the world’s largest professional network for scientists and researchers. According to their website, the main purpose of ResearchGate is to “Discover”, “Communicate” and “Collaborate”. The great news is that its completely free to join and participate.

How does ResearchGate differ from other social media?

ResearchGate is a unique application that offers specific tools, designed by and specifically for scientists, to meet their diverse needs.  Founded in 2008 and touted as facebook for academics, ResearchGate has over 5 million members in 193 countries. Membership is free but is restricted to working scientists and academics (you need an academic institution email address). The application provides a platform for academics to create a social networking and data sharing profile, list and share all publications (dependant  on the publishers copyright policies), participate in question and answer sessions, work on projects with collaborators in secure private work spaces, and advertise jobs in academia.

The major disciplines represented in ResearchGate are biology, medicine, computer science, physics, and chemistry.

A recent article in Nature, examining academics use of social media, found ResearchGate was more highly used than its rival Academia.edu although on both platforms the use was for professional recognition and network building within a researcher’s specific discipline. Academia.edu differs in that you do not need to have an insitutional email address to join and that is highlighted by its high number of members. The popularity of ResearchGate is further evidenced by the  over two million publications that  are uploaded every month.

How to create a researchGate profile?

  1. Go to researchgate.net and click ‘Join for free’ and follow the prompts.
  2. Add your publications by clicking ‘add publications’.
  3. Select topics to follow.

One of the biggest complaints about ResearchGate is the number of email notifications that they send out. To avoid this it is recommended that you customise your email notification settings. The following steps from the ResearchGate support centre will help you to do this.

Managing your email notifications

Follow these steps to customize your notifications:

  1. Go to your Notification settings
  2. Check the boxes next to the notifications you want to receive.

Once your profile is set up you are able to share with colleagues the titles of your publications, your field of interest (more than one keyword allowed), your expertise, so anyone can discover you. You can also get stats to track how many people view, download and cite your work. An advantage of knowing who is looking at your papers are the opportunities to develop new networks in your field. ResearchGate includes features that search and find your papers on other databases such as PubMed, CiteSeer, arXiv, and others so you can add those to your ResearchGate profile.