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What is ResearchGate?

What is ResearchGate?


ResearchGate is an academic social networking site designed to facilitate access to academic research and collaboration between researchers.

It was founded in 2008 by a group of scientists, and has quickly grown to become the biggest networking site of its kind, with over 11 million users worldwide. In fact, the number of users has more than doubled in only two years, and the site is even being dubbed the ‘Facebook for scientists’.


Why use ResearchGate?

The four main uses for ResearchGate are set out on the website homepage:[1]

1. ‘Read and discuss problems’

Scientists are able to look at each other’s work, discuss their research within the academic community, and create professional partnerships. Active forums can provide a platform for less experienced scientists to find support and advice from those more experienced, and users have described long-lasting professional partnerships beginning from a request for help with their experiment.

2. ‘Create exposure for your work’

The online community provides a convenient platform for showcasing research, even before publication stage. The question-and-answer forums and comment areas mean that scientists can take part in a form of peer review, and enquire about others’ work.

3. ‘Get stats [statistics] on your research’

ResearchGate has its own rating system (RG) to evaluate the impact of researchers and their work. However, this metrics system has caused some confusion, and even controversy; please see the section below for more information.

4. ‘Connect with your colleagues’

Search for other researchers and create contacts all over the world, while also keeping up to date with the latest scientific research.


RG Score: How does it work?

According to ResearchGate, ‘your RG Score is based on how both your published research and contributions to ResearchGate are received by your peers.’[2]

The RG score is intended to give an individualized score based on your research, your comments, and even your interactions with other users. ResearchGate claims that the ‘RG Score focuses on you, an ever-growing community of specialists, and puts reputation back into the hands of researchers’.[3]

What are scientists saying?

The numbers speak for themselves: with 11 million users, ResearchGate has great support from the scientific community.

According to a survey by Nature in 2014, ResearchGate is mostly used so that researchers can be contacted, to discover peers, and to post content.[4] Some users even search for jobs, or seek to hire researchers, although these are less common uses for the network.

There are, however, some that have been put off by the number of automated emails that ResearchGate sends to users, and even non-users, amid claims that false profiles are used to lure potential contacts onto the network.[5] Concerns have also been raised about the use of content that is uploaded by users, with claims that eventually, ResearchGate will need to use it for funding. Even the RG score has been criticised for its lack of ‘transparency’ and irreproducibility.[6]

All in all, though, ResearchGate is a popular website within the scientific community; it seems that the professional networking site is a useful resource for making contacts and finding support and feedback from peers and more experienced scientists.


More Information

For more information about ResearchGate, please visit the following websites:

Additional help and support

Any questions? Charlesworth Author Services can help advise you on getting your research seen and published. Please contact us at asktheeditors@cwauthors.com or helpdesk@cwauthors.com.


[1] https://www.researchgate.net/ Accessed 1 December 2016

[2] https://explore.researchgate.net/display/support/Scores Accessed 2 December 2016

[3] https://explore.researchgate.net/display/support/Scores Accessed 2 December 2016

[4] http://www.nature.com/news/online-collaboration-scientists-and-the-social-network-1.15711 Accessed 2 December 2016

[5] http://www.nature.com/news/online-collaboration-scientists-and-the-social-network-1.15711 Accessed 2 December 2016

[6] http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2015/12/09/the-researchgate-score-a-good-example-of-a-bad-metric/ Accessed December 2016