Type of site
|Social network service for scientists|
|Created by||Ijad Madisch, Sören Hofmayer, Horst Fickenscher|
ResearchGate was founded in 2008 by a virologist and computer scientist, Ijad Madisch. It started in Boston, but moved to Berlin, Germany shortly afterwards. In 2009, the company began a partnership with Seeding Labs, in order to supply third-world countries with surplus lab equipment from the United States. Its first round of funding was announced in September 2010.
According to The New York Times the website began with very few features, then developed over time based on input from scientists. Adoption of the site grew rapidly. From 2009 to 2011, the site grew from 25,000 users to more than 1 million. The company grew from 12 employees in 2011 to 70 in 2012.
The New York Times described the site as a mashup of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It has many of the features that are typical among social network sites, such as user profiles, messages that can be public or private, and methods for finding other users with similar interests. It differs from other social networks in that it is designed for researchers and scientists. Conversation strings focus on a research interest or paper and you can "follow" a research interest, in addition to following individual users. It has a blogging feature for users to write short reviews on peer-reviewed articles. ResearchGate indexes self-published information on user profiles to suggest members to connect with those that have similar interests. When a user posts a question, it is fielded to scientists that have identified on their user profile that they have a relevant expertise. It also has private chat rooms where scientists can share data, edit shared documents, or discuss confidential topics.
As of 2013, it has 2.6 million users. ResearchGate's largest user-base is in Europe and North America. Most of ResearchGate's users are involved in medicine or biology, though it also has participants from engineering, computer science and agricultural sciences among others. Participants can get a higher "score" which ranks their "scientific reputation" by providing popular answers to questions and other metrics.
Members are encouraged to share raw data and failed experiment results. ResearchGate does not require peer review or fees. Since accessing documents usually requires an account, ReseachGate is not considered to be open access.
As of 2009, according to BusinessWeek, ResearchGate was influential in promoting innovation in developing countries by connecting scientists from those nations with their peers in industrialized nations. BusinessWeek said the website had become popular largely due to its "navigation" and "ease of use". It also noted that ResearchGate had been involved in "a string" of notable cross-country collaborations between scientists that led to substantive developments. A paper published in the The International Information & Library Review conducted a survey with 160 respondents and found that out of those using social networking "for academic purposes", Facebook and ResearchGate were the most popular at the University of Delhi, but also "a majority of respondents said using SNSs [Social Networking Sites] may be a waste of time".
ResearchGate has been criticized for emailing unsolicited invitations to the coauthors of its users. These emails are written as if they were personally sent by the user, but they are sent automatically unless the user opts out, which causes some researchers to boycott the service because of this marketing tactic. A study published by the Association for Information Systems found that a dormant account on ResearchGate, using default settings, generated 297 invitations to 38 people over a 16 month period, and that the user profile was automatically attributed to more than 430 publications. Furthermore, journalists and researchers have found that the "RG score," calculated by ResearchGate via a proprietary algorithm, can reach high values under questionable circumstances.
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ResearchGate automatically emails invitations to your coauthors on your behalf. These invitations are made to look as if they were sent by you but are emailed without your consent.
- Meg Murray (2014). "Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Conference of the Southern Association for Information Systems (SAIS)".
- "Online collaboration: Scientists and the social network". Nature. 2014-08-13. Retrieved 2014-11-06.
Some irritated scientists say that the site taps into human instincts only too well — by regularly sending out automated e-mails that profess to come from colleagues active on the site, thus luring others to join on false pretences. (Indeed, 35% of regular ResearchGate users in Nature’s survey said that they joined the site because they received an e-mail.) Lars Arvestad, a computer scientist at Stockholm University, is fed up with the tactic. “I think it is a disgraceful kind of marketing and I am choosing not to use their service because of that,” he says. Some of the apparent profiles on the site are not owned by real people, but are created automatically — and incompletely — by scraping details of people’s affiliations, publication records and PDFs, if available, from around the web. That annoys researchers who do not want to be on the site, and who feel that the pages misrepresent them — especially when they discover that ResearchGate will not take down the pages when asked.
- "Ein Vergleich für Forscher unter sich: Der Researchgate Score" (in German). 2012-10-09. Retrieved 2012-12-03.