June 18, 2012

ResearchGate is growing

Writing about web page http://www.researchgate.net/

I've noticed a growth in activity on ResearchGate lately, so have investigated it a bit more thoroughly.

Warwick researchers

Back in January 2012, I blogged that there were 313 researchers from a search for "university of warwick". Now it just tells me that there are "1000+" researchers.

One recent e-mail from ResearchGate told me that that "over 65" researchers from warwick had joined in the last month. That seems like quite fast progress, and ResearchGate has introduced the facility to navigate by institution. When navigating this way, there are 380 University of Warwick members of ResearchGate. Perhaps the other researchers in my search results have mentioned Warwick in some way but are not currently members of the University. This seems like a much better way for me to keep track of Warwick researchers' engagement with the site.

Discussions on ResearchGate

I'm also interested in the activity on ResearchGate in the discussion forums. I'm following a handful of topics, including "Academic writing", "Digital Libraries" "Science 2.0 and open access". I get an e-mail every now and then to tell me about a new question or answers to a question that I am following: there is activity there, and from time to time it is useful to me.

ResearchGate's topics are similar to way I use jiscmail mailing lists, although more efficient because I only get notifications of discussions once, and if it's not of interest then I don't get notifications of further engagement on that topic. Also, the community is different: there are more researchers on ResearchGate and more librarians on jiscmail. LinkedIn offers similar functions in terms of groups where discussions can take place, but perhaps I am not on the right LinkedIn groups because I'm not seeing so much interaction happening there: for me it is more of a useful place to keep up with news than to watch or take part in discussions.

Another difference in the way I've used LinkedIn and ResearchGate is that I can find more people on LinkedIn who I am connected to, whilst on ResearchGate I haven't used the "follow" function very much, for researchers. I don't regularly check what my LinkedIn contacts are doing anyway, so I suppose it's natural that I haven't used the similar feature on ResearchGate. I just selected a few people from the University of Warwick to follow, so will see if that function becomes more interesting to me.

More about the Warwick researchers on ResearchGate

Most have not uploaded photographs. Some have used jokey pictures and a few I recognise as PhD students here. One or two are names of established researchers here, and a few are from our IT Services or from central administration departments. The Departmental breakdown offered by ResearchGate tells me that there are researchers from 18 departments, but it isn't simple to see how many are in each department.

ResearchGate is now displaying an "impact points" score for the institution and for each department. Today, Warwick has 17,028.13 points. The department with the highest number of points is the Department of Chemistry, with 2778.64 points. I can't see any more information than that about the department: ResearchGate displayed a message that they are "still crunching the data" for this department and that I could request that the data be processed for one department only, so I should choose wisely! I requested Chemistry and was told that there are now 2 requests, and that "Once we're done, you'll be able to see stats that visualize this department's research output." I look forward to it!

Publications on ResearchGate: a literature source?

So what are those impact points all about? It appears that they are something to do with activity around publications on ResearchGate. Warwick has 7,185 publications on ResearchGate today. Researchers can upload publications, with citation and abstract information displaying on ResearchGate: it is another place where researchers can search for articles, and it takes data from the likes of PubMed and RePEC and CiteSeer: it claims to have data for over 35 million documents. Which is great, but as a librarian, I don't much like the simple search features: even the "advanced search" is way too simple for properly filtering quite so many documents, in my view. I like to use lots of limits and criteria. I didn't try the "similar abstracts" function out, but I did note that the search tips are helpful in explaining how to do boolean logic based searches with keywords.

I liked the journal title record, when I did a "journal finder" search: lots of valuable information there, including impact factors and SherpaRoMEO data. I might recommend it as a source of journal information in my "Getting Published" workshops, because it brings lots of information together in that way.

There is also a function to bookmark publications in ResearchGate. I bookmarked a couple easily enough, and I notice that there is a function to share an item on Twitter too, so these are features that I ought to investigate further.

I just quickly added three of my publications that ResearchGate identified for me to my profile: I could have uploaded a file from EndNote or tried other methods, but this was enough for now. I now have the option to upload the papers themselves, but I won't do that because they are freely available online already. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the source data for this was Warwick's Institutional repository, WRAP, which is great because Warwick researchers who use WRAP will find it easy to create complete profiles on ResearchGate.

My ResearchGate profile looks pretty poor and I probably ought to invest in it a bit more, especially now that there is so much more going on there. I wish I had time to investigate more thoroughly, but perhaps I will come back to it!

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