Based in Germany, ResearchGate is a platform that enables researchers to connect with others and share their work. The company was co-founded in 2008 by Ijad Madisch, a PhD in virology. Madisch is also the current CEO. Since it started, ResearchGate has raised millions of dollars in venture capital money from a number of high profile firms and individuals, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Originally, only scientists were able to join ResearchGate. Now, anyone can sign up, but the platform caters to academic researchers, corporate researchers, and medical professionals. ResearchGate claims to have over 9 million users, although it is not known how many of those use the platform regularly. According to one recent survey, two thirds of respondents noted that they are active users of ResearchGate.
Like its competitor Academia.edu, ResearchGate allows users to post full-text versions of their publications to their profile, or they can enable other scholars to contact them privately to get a copy. Users can even generate their own DOIs (digital objects identifiers) for work they post. The platform also hosts question and answer forums and a job board. One interesting feature of ResearchGate is its Open Review. Open Review lets users write a review of any publication on ResearchGate (whether the full text has been posted or not).
Before signing up for ResearchGate, it’s important to know that some scholars have complained about how aggressive the company is when it comes to marketing. ResearchGate has been known to spam users and users’ co-authors. The company has also been accused of setting up fake profiles for scholars who never registered for an account, and posting articles without authors’ permission.
As ResearchGate is a private company, many scholars have started wondering what the platform will do once its venture funding runs out. Madisch has said in the past that ResearchGate will not sell researcher’s data. According to a recent article in Times Higher Education, Madisch believes that the company will be able to become profitable through advertising alone. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen.