It is with some reservation that I offer this post about ResearchGate. Like many of you, I suffer from Facebook, Google+, Linked-in, and Twitter fatigue. They each want to be my number one place to spend time I don't have looking at pictures, posts and plays of my many "friends." And while I will admit I sometimes enjoy the diversion, I feel amazing guilty that I do not fully participate in the lives of those I care about.
But even with this weariness, I still find time for a small number of special purpose networks.. For example, GoodReads.com is a great place to record what I read and to get help from my friends for what to read next. And Ancestry.com is working to connect my family into one large community of relatives. I suspect you have your list of special pupose nets.
I am going to suggest one more for the research community-- ResearchGate. Researchers see books and papers are part of an ongoing knowledge-building conversation and ResearchGates wants to support that dialogue. Founded by physicians Dr. Ijad Madisch and Dr. Sören Hofmayer, and computer scientist Horst Fickenscher, the goal is provide a more tangible fluid academic community then that created by citations embedded in written work. And unlike many other networks, the entry is painless. You sign in, share a image and the rest happens.
The ResearchGate search engine grabs your name and goes looking. Soon you have lists of texts you have written some of which you might have forgotten about. If you claim the text, it appears under your list of publications-- no typing. To develop the social network, you can follow and be followed, ask academic questions and link up with those who cite your work or those whose work you cite.
My online web office has long been in need of a new home but instead of doing this, I am working on getting resources posted on ResearchGate. I wish, though, that the informaiton page would allow you more characters to highlight what is important to you. You get a short paragraph. I was looking for the more option and ability to say a bit more.
ReearchGate suggest that II might be interested in the Q & A to "How do you teach graduate students to read and write?" Maybe it was just a lucky guess but they were right.
I participated in this slow motion discussion with people I don't know and enjoyed what I learned. And I like the idea that I don't have to remain a part of this group. (Or feel any guilt if I never return).
And like Ancestry.com they entice you back by telling you they may have found somthing else you wrote. Or they found a online source for a paper. But I do find it odd that you don't seem to be able to generate a citation from a listing. It seems like this is a simple thing that would help as you review articles.
On the publication page and half way down on the right side, you are asked to put in authors or titles for an "advanced search. No matter what you type, it takes you to a place called Publication Search where you can upload an absract and get recommendations of journals and find other articles that were similar to a pasted abstract. It is an interesting way to search but the way into it is odd and dysfuctional (and took me time to find again). But is extremely helpful to see a list of possible journals by keywords.
While ResearchGate has been around since 2008, the recent infusion of 35 million dollars of startup money from Bill Gates and the recent winning of the 2014 "Digital Innovation of the Year" award from Focus magazine have increased the size and resources of the network. I suspect that with more funding, it will will be more funcational and I am hopeful that ResearchGate will become an important place to build knowledge together.