Facebook might be the place for updates on friends' weekend trips and photos of the family's newest addition but it may be less effective at fostering communication and collaboration among scientific researchers. That is a problem ResearchGate, a social networking site designed specifically for scientists and scholars, hopes to address.
In a segment today on WBUR, Caroline Moore-Kochlacs, a Boston University PhD candidate and one of ResearchGate's 800,00 members, discusses how she uses the site to connect with researchers:
Moore-Kochlacs said those other social networks, Facebook and LinkedIn, are great, but not for getting science done. On those sites, she said, people feel like they have to be clever, or if they ask questions, it's what camera to buy for going on vacation.
"They're never anything to do with science," she said, even though a third of her LinkedIn contacts are scientists.
Moore-Kochlacs likes ResearchGate because she can ask questions, like what reagent to use in a certain chemical reaction. She said she can also find out what labs are working on before they publish. Or, she said, just get up to date on what people have published.
"The scientific literature is so huge at this point that it's really impossible to get through everything in your topic area," Moore-Kochlacs said. "People really rely on hearing it from other people."
ResearchGate is not alone in the scientific social networking game. Competitors include Academia.edu, Epernicus, Quartzy and Scispace.