Three popular free scholarly networks are ResearchGate, Academia.edu and Mendeley. All three networks allow you to create lists of your articles, to network with other users, to find statistics on profile and article views, to search for jobs and to share PDFs of your work.
As a researcher, you may benefit from joining online social networks. They can help you to:
- enhance your visibility by listing your scholarly output online;
- enlarge your network and start new collaborations;
- stay up to date on your field by following researchers and topics;
- stimulate interaction in your field by asking questions or starting discussions;
- stay informed about jobs in your field.
While the Library encourages researchers to join online social networks, they do send an abundance of emails. But, you may turn off unwanted email notifications. These networks also sometimes email your co-authors and ask them to confirm their co-authorship of your work. When your co-authors then do this, they inadvertently sign up for the service.
ResearchGate has the largest number of active users among academic social media. You have to sign up for ResearchGate with an institutional email address.
Academia.edu also allows you to create sessions in which you can upload a manuscript or document and ask for feedback from other people that have an account.
Mendeley is both a reference manager and an academic network. You can receive reading suggestions based on the researchers and topics that you follow. You can create public groups in which you can exchange references as well as discuss specific topics. Private groups also allow you to share PDFs within the group. For information on Mendeley as a reference manager, go here.
Comparing the three networks
Sharing papers on social networks
You can always share your papers with individuals on social media. However, take care when social networks invite you to upload and share full-text papers on their platform, as embargo or copyright may restrict you from publicly sharing your work. To look up a journal’s policies on these issues, visit its website, or use SHERPA/RoMEO. This database lists publisher policies on sharing articles online. Open Access papers can always be publicly shared.