Researchgate is a commercial social network and database on the Internet for researchers from all fields of science. It is also used as a document server for publications. The commercial service, operated by Berlin-based Researchgate GmbH, was launched in May 2008 and, according to its own figures, had gained around 20 million members worldwide by November 22.
Scientists who want to join the network need an e-mail address from a well-known research institution or must provide proof of a scientific publication. Members of the network have a user profile where they can show results of their research, including technical articles, research data, book chapters, negative results, patents, research projects, methods, presentations and source code for computer programs. Members can follow other members – it is similar to Facebook, for example – and get in touch with them. According to surveys by the magazines“Nature” and“Times Higher Education“, Researchgate is the most active academic network of its kind.
You don’t have to buy anything from ResearchGate. Over 60 percent of all articles published in recent years are made available free of charge by the authors via their profile page. This is entirely in the spirit of “open science” – but not at all in the interest of the publishers.
Almost 30 researchers from Hof University are registered in the network and have (partly) published their papers there. The opinions about the network are very different: Some are rather critical, only observe and are also “annoyed” by the automatic networking. The others are actively involved and find it a good way to make research available. In addition, the service indexes on Google Scholar and thus contributes to the visibility of the articles. The fact that pdf’s of articles can be shared in advance upon request is also seen as positive, sometimes leading to discussion.