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Academic Researcher Profiles

An overview of several researcher profiles

What is an Academic Social Network?

Academic social networks are platforms whose main goal is to connect researchers with common interests and help them to share information.

They allow you to :

  • Create a profile that summarizes your research
  • Reference your publications, so others can find them
  • Find and follow other researchers, so you can receive automatic updates on their new publications
  • See platform-specific metrics that indicate the readership and reach you have on those sites

There are a dozen of these platforms but the most popular and known are ResearchGate and Academia.


  • Founded in 2008 by the philosopher Richard Price.
  • Commercial platform. Headquarters in US
  • 240 million registered users.


  • Founded in 2008 by physicians Dr. Ijad Madisch and Dr. Sören Hofmayer, and computer scientist Horst Fickenscher.
  • Commercial platform. Headquarters in Germany.
  • More than 25 million users.

Academia versus ResearchGate

What are the benefits for researchers of creating a profile in academic social netwoks?




Promote your research These sites are highly visited, prominent in Google searches and push your research towards people interested in your field or who are already following you. Visibility can increase your number of citations as is stated in the following study.
Follow the attention of your research through bibliometric indicators Profile and document views, paper and author ranks. Profile views, reads (documents reads and downloads), citations count, RG Score and total research interest.
Keep abreast of the literature on your subject Subject and author monitoring: you automatically receive new uploaded papers from people you follow or subjects that interest you.
Discuss and find collaborations Service sessions: post your research and get feed back.

Q&A: forum where you can ask questions.

Job section

These platforms offer substantially similar services but ResearchGate offers more functionalities such as the discussion board, and provides more bibliometric indicators.

  1. Usage metrics : profile and document views. It doesn't provide citation count and if you want to know who cites you, you have to pay, which is not the case for Google Scholar citation profile. 
  2. Popularity metrics :
  • PaperRanks is a function of the number of recommendations a paper has received, weighted by the AuthorRanks of the recommenders.
  • AuthorRanks is a function of the PaperRanks of the papers on the author’s profile.

Keep in mind : these metrics are only harvested on this platform and are not very reliable, as data collection methods and score calculations are not transparent.

  1. Usage metrics
    • Reads: tracks the number of times someone either reads the full-text or summary of any type of research on ResearchGate or downloads a file hosted on the platform (including direct downloads from search engines).
    • Profile views:  measures how many people visit a ResearchGate profile, giving information about their country of origin and to which institution they belong.
    • Recommendations: how many times the paper has been recommended by someone.
    • Citations: shows what a user has cited as well as where the user's work has been cited on the platform.
  2. Popularity metrics
  • Research Interest Score : is based on the number of citations (excl. self-citations), reads (by ResearchGate members only) and recommendations for each item. The Total Research Interest score corresponds to the addition of the Research Interest scores from all of an author's research items on their profile. Total Research Interest Score adds up the Research Interest scores from all of an author's research items on their profile.

Keep in mind : metrics are only harvested on this platform and are not very reliable, as data collection methods and score calculations are not transparent.

Academic Social Networks can be  good tools to reach international visibility. Here are some of their weaknesses that you have to keep in mind.

  • Metrics harvested only on these platforms are not very reliable because data collection methods and the calculation of metric indicators are not transparent.
  • Academia and ResearchGate follow a for-profit business model, which implies that the company will try to make money by using your data. They also use an aggressive marketing strategy, which consists of sending you unsolicited emails or inciting you to pay for a premium account to have more functionalities.
  • You will receive a lot of spam: in order to reduce it, change your e-mail notifications in the account settings section. Uncheck all the actions that are not necessary for you (for example: if you don’t want to receive an e-mail every time someone finds your work or profile on Google or other search engines).
  • Academic Social Networks are not Open Access Repositories. Check the terms of your contract with the publisher because many contracts allow authors to post either the pre-publication work or the author copy but you have to verify first. Or use the Sherpa database, which records publishers copyright policies. Researchers are not usually sued by editors, but in 2013  Elsevier started asking Academia to remove papers that infringe the copyright and did the same for ResearchGate in 2017. To deepen on this subject, read the library blog article Should you share your published articles on academic social media?