Few years ago, a new type of social network appears on the web, “Social networks for researchers/scientists”. For Instance, ResearchGate, Academia and BiomedExperts are originally designed as social portals. Other websites such as Mendeley have progressively introduced social services in their platforms. Utility of these websites have been questioned in diverse blog-posts, Forbes, Blogs.Nature, Presans, MyScienceWork to cite a few.
Personally, I don’t consider that the means of communication provided by these platforms are very useful. I spent very little time on these “social networks”, and prefer to explore collaborative tools for smaller networks (colleagues, collaborators, university, and communities on my research topics).
I illustrate this point with two examples of websites that were recommended to me by colleagues. Note that I do not criticize these platforms for researchers (they present some interesting innovations), but I point out some important aspects for appropriately using them.
Second, the majority of these platforms restricts or blocks the access of content to non-registered user. These restrictions apply on your list of publications, abstracts, posts or full-texts. For instance, below is a notification for the access of full-texts on ResearchGate.
Clearly, the majority of these “social networks” for researchers are not Libre or open-access platforms, they just monetize research material. Again, researchers have to consider these aspects when they provide content and spend time on these websites. More important, researchers and research institutions must ensure that their data-handling/publication/copyright policies are in accordance with these websites. It is high time for researchers to consider content rights for their research results, and for Universities and funding institutions to provide clear guidelines on research communications and data-handling.