While similar in the networking aspect, academic networking sites are often more focused than social media sites because they cater specifically to those in academia. Similar to social media sites, you can choose to go onto these platforms and create your own profile to begin networking with others that share your interests. In some cases, such as Google Scholar, a profile is created for you when the platform obtains information about your published works. Creating a profile on these sites is generally free, although institutions often have to pay to access platforms such as Scopus or Web of Science.
This guide will provide some information about the most popular platforms currently available.
Google Scholar is a free search engine that allows researchers to locate scholarly works (journal articles, conference papers, theses and dissertations, academic books, and more) across disciplines. Scholars can also have profiles that list their current affiliation, list published scholarly work, and provide a citation count. A profile can be created in two ways - either by using your Google account, or claiming a profile that has been automatically created for you. Google calls this claiming authorship. This profile is public and easily found by researchers using Google Scholar, and you can use the citation tracking to watch how others are using your works.
One thing to keep in mind about Google Scholar: because it is entirely public and primarily uses Google user accounts for authorship, there may be articles written by you but claimed by other "authors". Occasionally, Google Scholar will also automatically add articles to your profile that you didn't author. You can use these tips to keep your authorship and profile on track.
Academia.edu is an academic networking site that serves primarily humanists and social scientists. Users of this site can share research papers with other academics, track their papers' dissemination using bibliometrics, and follow other scholars' research. Scholars wanting to create a free account for this site can sign up using their email, a Google user account, or their Facebook account. Signing up using another service (Google or Facebook) creates a connection between the two sites that may mean your information from one site is shared with the other.
In the past few years, there have arisen some concerns about Academia.edu and data sharing, user privacy, and the creation ofpaid premium accounts. Ways to address these concerns include managing your privacy settings, avoiding connecting your Academia.edu account to a personal account, and sharing research on discipline specific Open Access repositories.
ResearchGate is an academic networking and research sharing site that caters primarily to scientists. To create a free profile on this site you can join using your email, or connect using your existing LinkedIn or Facebook profiles. Signing up using another service creates a connection between the two sites that may mean your information from one site is shared with the other. In general, ResearchGate is one of the most well known academic networking sites. Users can share their own research, connect with and follow colleagues and other researchers in various disciplines, and monitor bibliometrics about the reach of their research on the site.
Similar to concerns with Academia.edu, in recent years scholars have raised issue with ResearchGate and its inaccurate measurement of scientific output, data sharing and privacy concerns, and users receiving spam emails regularly. The site was also targeted by publishers in 2017 to remove papers shared, claiming violation of publisher copyright, which resulted in the removal of several papers. Some ways to combat these issues include: only sharing scholarly work that is allowable under publisher copyright (e.g. pre-print), managing your privacy settings, and not connecting personal and academic accounts from multiple sites.
Scopus is a subscription based abstract and citation database owned by Elsevier that enables detailed tracking of citations and publication trends, mainly within STEM fields, but also includes information about several other disciplines. It isn't technically a networking platform, but allows authors to update and maintain their contact information and displays this information to subscribers. Scopus uses its own author and institution ID system that tries to disambiguate between authors and affiliated institutions with similar names and avoid incorrect attribution as much as possible. Recently, ORCID was incorporated into Scopus, so if you already have an ORCID number you can add this information to your author profile, and send information to your ORCID account.
Web of Science is a subscription based collection of abstract and citation databases owned by Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thomson Reuters) that includes a Science CORE Collection, MEDLINE, and more. As its name implies, the core set of users and collections focus on STEM disciplines and it is used to track the citation and publication trends in these disciplines. This platform also isn't technically a networking site, but it does allow authors to update and manage their author profiles, including providing contact information. Similar to Scopus, the Web of Science uses its own identification number for author disambiguation, called the ResearcherID. For more information about this identification system, check out the ResearcherID page on this guide.
There are many options available for sharing your scholarly work with other researchers, the public, and colleagues besides the networking sites discussed above. One of the most common methods of sharing research is through discipline specific open access repositories. A list of these is available here, and is maintained by the Open Access Directory. Sharing on these sites often helps scholars receive feedback from colleagues and share research within their disciplinary community, however, it is important to verify publisher policy regarding copyright before posting your research.
Another increasingly common option available to many faculty members at research institutions is an open access Institutional Repository, like Digital Scholarship@UNLV, where faculty can deposit research and have access to metrics. For more information about what metrics are available at UNLV and how they can benefit faculty, and about Digital Scholarship@UNLV, check out the LibGuide links below.
Finally, another option for sharing research or research data widely is depositing into an open access digital archive. Some examples of these archives include figshare, CORE Humanities Commons Repository, and GitHub which also allows for open source sharing/editing/collaboration of data. For more information about research data management, check out the LibGuide links below.