|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 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".
In 2011, a University of Florida librarian conducted an evaluation of ResearchGate. The librarian answered 211 questions and obtained 293 followers. According to the Norton Journal of the Medical Library Association, ResearchGate users "provided invaluable feedback" for "evaluating three existing LibGuides" and the experiment found that librarians can develop real-world recognition among their peers for their contributions to the site. In a paper published by the Association for Information Systems an experiment involving a dormant account found that over a 16 month period, using default settings, ResearchGate sent 297 invitations to 38 people. These emails are written as if they were personally sent by the user, but they are automatically sent to co-authors when a user posts an article in their profile unless they opt out. The user profile was automatically attributed to more than 430 publications. It followed or was followed by more than 450 users, though the profile was inactive. Journalists and researchers have found that the "RG score," calculated by ResearchGate via a proprietary algorithm, can reach high values under questionable circumstances.
ResearchGate has been criticized for emailing unsolicited invitations to the coauthors of its users as well as for encouraging authors to upload articles to the site, which may infringe the copyright of the publisher.
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