May 18, 2014 1 Comment
As university professor, with great pressure to publish in academic journals, I find academic generalist networks essential, such as ResearchGate, Academia.edu or Mendeley, which help me to:
- Disseminate on the web my published articles to try to obtain citations and name among the scientific community in my field of expertise
- Find research papers quickly and easily
- Search for collaboration and international research projects
- Share ideas and find solutions
I wonder if you can do the same on Facebook or Linkedin. Facebook don’t clearly do it because it’s very focused on leisure and personal life but, what about Linkedin? With millions of professors and professionals connected interested in science/research?
But no, it seems that we need a specific one to ourselves that differentiate researchers, with specific functionalities on usability and sociability (mainly source credibility), two main factors for evaluating online communities (Chinthakalaya, 2013).
I don’t intend to make a thorough analysis of the technical and functional characteristics of these platforms, but rather from the point of view of the user or scientist, offer an outline of their main features, to make the most of our time and know what you can expect from each. And although this is a blog and not a scientific research project, I have also taken into account the views of other users in the academic networks, such as those expressed in ResearchGate in this forum.
Obviously, I have created profiles on all platforms, so one important point is that you are forced to be on all of them, but if not constantly updated (profile and papers), the effort will be useless.
- I’d highlight its:
- Interactivity: Collaboration and discovery through its discussions/questions and publication repository,
- Intelligence: The statistics and the scoring about your work are a great invitation / encouragement to participate and interact, though its administrators are very aware of all that is posted in the network, manipulating content, as if we were small children.
- And source credibility: only researchers are accepted, and they use it a lot because of the scoring mentioned above.
- But ResearchGate still has to improve its repository: I find it difficult to upload all my publications, not just papers, and it sometimes doesn’t find the links to get data when uploading them.
- Its strength point is the repository of publications: Allows you to post the link on your paper, so other researchers can download your papers directly from the original source (SSRN, RepEc, arXiv.org, CiteCeerX or SSOAR), which increase your score on these repositories, if that is important for anyone.
- But I find it less democratic so at the end less interactive: It’s very restrictive when disclosing your ideas to exchange views with other researchers. For example Academia.edu has deleted almost all of my new discussions, and they even closed my first profile there and I had to open another, which gives me the creepy feeling of censorship and guarded by a big brother with the excuse of spam.
- It works more as a reference management system (organize and search bibliographies, add papers from the web to your library, etc.) with both online and desktop versions, sometimes difficult to understand. So it isn’t an academic network, but it has “a social network integrated”, which can give you an idea of its limited social and sharing capabilities.
- It also has strong corporate and lucrative connotations: Mendeley was acquired in 2013 by Elsevier, the publishing house; yes, the one that is requesting scientific social-networking sites and authors to remove the papers posted online without their permission.
In conclusion, ResearchGate and Academia.edu are very similar social networks for scientists, each with their particular strengths/software, but I foresee a better future for ResearchGate because of its commitment to sociability, though not as much as Linkedin, my favorite generalist academic network.