ResearchGate - scientific network for researchersResearchGate.net
ResearchGate is an online social network for scientists and researchers to share information, ask and answer questions and find collaborative partners. ResearchGate was founded in 2008 by the virologist and computer scientist Ijad Madisch. It started in Boston, but the company later moved to Berlin. In 2009, the company began a partnership with Seeding Labs to provide Third World countries with surplus lab equipment from the United States. According to the New York Times, the website started very simple and has been further developed with the help of the contributions of scientists. From 2009 to 2011, the number of users of the site grew from 25,000 to over 1 million. The company grew from 12 employees in 2011 to 120 in 2014.
The New York Times described the network as a mixture of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It has many of the features typical of social networks on the Internet, such as user profiles, posts 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. You can "follow" other researchers with equal interest. Research Gate brings together researchers with their own stated interests, for example in question-answer sections that are theme-related. There are also private chat rooms where scientists can share data, edit shared documents, or discuss confidential topics. In 2013 it had 2.6 million users, most of them from medicine or biology, but there are also participants from engineering, computer science and agricultural sciences, among others. Participants can get a higher "RG score" and thus strengthen their "scientific reputation" by providing answers to the questions of others and by providing data. Members are encouraged to share raw data and failed experiments. ResearchGate does not charge any money. As of 2009, ResearchGate has played an increasingly important role in driving innovation in developing countries by connecting scientists from those countries with their colleagues in industrialized countries. According to BusinessWeek, the website had gained popularity mainly for its ease of use. ResearchGate was involved in remarkable collaborations between scientists from different countries that led to new substantive developments.
ResearchGate has been criticized for sending unsolicited emails to co-authors of its users. These emails appear to be written by the user, but they are sent automatically. Furthermore, it is not clear how the so-called "RG score" is calculated. It is also very difficult to get information from ResearchGate, the export options are very limited. Finally, the site implicitly called for articles to be offered through this site and thus did not respect copyright. At some point ResearchGate started asking users to explicitly indicate whether they have the rights to the text.