ResearchGate is an online professional network for scientists and researchers, particularly employed by those wishing to follow and track the publication outputs of others in their field. In addition, researchers can create professional profiles, discuss their work in topic-specific forums, and share papers; the service also offers extensive conference and job listings.
Licensing and cost
The service is free under a custom license.
ResearchGate was launched in May 2008. Development is ongoing, with financial support from Benchmark, Founders Fund, Bill Gates, and Tenaya Capital.
Platform and interoperability
As a web-based service, ResearchGate is platform agnostic. It does not advertise any browser limitations. ResearchGate's internal search engine links with seven major databases containing articles and conference abstracts: Pubmed, Arxiv, Pubmed Central, IEEE, RePEc, Citeseer, NASA Library, and Directory of Open Access Journals.
Members can track the publication output of any academic – even those without ResearchGate memberships. ResearchGate separates publications out into peer-reviewed, non-peer-reviewed and supplementary resources (including data and negative results). Peer-reviewed publications may be entered manually, selected from a list of automatic suggestions, or imported from a reference manager database file: BibTeX, RIS, MODS, RefWorks, Refer/BiblX, Dblp, and XML from EndNote or Reference Manager are supported. Non-peer-reviewed material can only be added through file upload. Private collaboration, specifically via shared file storage and a message stream, is possible using the Projects feature. Non-members can be added to Projects by email address. ResearchGate gives members a score based on their interactions with other members: questions asked and answered, and others viewing their publications or 'following' them. In February 2013 it introduced a citation tracking feature.
Documentation and user support
ResearchGate provides a tour of its services and task-based help pages (available via 'Learn more' links). The project blog includes some entries on service updates and organisational events. Contact information for the support team is listed, and users with privacy or data protections inquiries are referred to the data protection officer.
ResearchGate uses an extremely straightforward web interface.
Familiarity with social networking norms is helpful.
No standards compliance is advertised.
Influence and take-up
ResearchGate reached 3 million members in June 2013, drawn from over 193 countries.