The Perfect Marriage Between Science and Social Media

research-66365_1280Natalie Mangan (@NatalieMangan)


When most people think of social media, science is not usually a subject that comes to mind.

However, one man is trying to change this perception with his science based social media site, ResearchGate.

Ijad Madisch is the creator of ResearchGate. ResearchGate is a platform where scientists can collaborate and discuss important issues with other scientists globally.

The company was created in 2008 and has attracted over five million scientists and raised over $35 million in funding.

ResearchGate’s main goal is to unite scientists from all different disciplines to come together and work on combating outbreaks like Ebola.

This company is one example of the “open science movement” because it allows scientists to publish their findings so others can contribute and learn from other scientist’s mistakes. This idea sparked Madisch to end his career in medicine and focus on developing ResearchGate.

Currently, scientists are using ResearchGate to discuss ideas about how they could prevent Ebola from spreading. For example, Mohamad-Ali Trad thought of the idea of using text messaging to connect Ebola victims with the nearest treatment facility and the available number of beds.

Trad posted his idea on the discussion board on the ResearchGate website.  Within a few days he was connected to a doctor who had worked on a similar system for AIDS patients and many potential funders.

This movement for open access of ideas has spread to other companies like Microsoft.

In 2014, Microsoft created a new policy stating that authors are allowed to publish their work in private journals, but Microsoft will keep the right to add the research to its open database whenever possible.

Both ResearchGate and Microsoft are just a few examples of how social networking and the open science movement have united people and ideas for a greater good.

What are your opinions and thoughts on this issue? Do you think other companies should participate in the open science movement? Feel free to comment below.


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This Article Has 6 Comments
  1. Strategic Social Media Student says:

    Katie McGuigan (@knmcguigan)

    Natalie, before reading your blog post I hadn’t heard of Research Gate, and I think that the collaboration between different scientists within their own social networks could be really be impactful socially. Specifically, when it comes to research with medical outbreaks, such as, Ebola. However, I wonder if these networks are elite to the point where they will have trouble reaching the people they are trying to help, for example, Ebola patients in more rural areas.

    And as far as Microsoft goes and other open science platforms, on one hand it seems really beneficial to be able to provide these academic journals and information to a more general audience. But on the other hand, do you believe that this “forced participation” could lead to more researchers choosing to opt-out all together,perhaps due to privacy concerns or other various reasons?

    • Natalie Mangan says:

      Hi Katie,
      Your question regarding if the networks are “elite to the point where they will have trouble reaching the people they are trying to help” is a valid point. ResearchGate as a platform is free to sign-up and users can connect their LinkedIn or Facebook profiles. In places where there is limited internet access, there could potentially be an issue of reaching those in need.

      In regards to this “forced participation,” I am sure some researchers might want to opt-out due to lost financial gains, but I think the majority probably would want to support this movement. Scientists who release their information for public use not only benefit others, but they could use other scientist’s work too. By openly publishing their information, it gives scientists a chance to be in the spotlight. As quoted in a Quest article, “Scientists do all the work pretty much in secrecy until they are ready to present a polished story. They then present their results to each other in a language only they can understand. Everyone else then has to count on the media to provide updates on what scientists have discovered.” (http://science.kqed.org/quest/2011/09/26/the-open-science-movement/). If scientists publish their work publicly, it cuts out the waiting time and they can disclose their findings at their leisure.

  2. Kayla Gordon says:

    Natalie, I too had never heard of ResearchGate. What an interesting concept! I imagine that some of this information sharing already occurs in peer-reviewed journals but this forum opens the door for innovators in other fields to contribute. Those in professions outside of medicine may have more unorthodox ideas to solving problems.

  3. Abbie Mulligan says:

    Natalie,

    So awesome you found this open forum. I think it’s an interesting way for companies and scientists to use each other as a soundboard globally. Problems may be solved faster that way!

    As far as your question, I’m sure this platform will be find useful in the coming years. Social media is already used to connect people who want to find beneficial ways to help others.

    Great find!

  4. McKenzie Boyle says:

    This is really interesting! It’s important that scientists are sharing and collaborating because that will help to solve problems more quickly and more efficiently. I never would have thought of social media as a tool for this, but I hope ResearchGate continues to gain popularity.

  5. Rudy Omri says:

    ResearchGate is awesome! I know a retired professor, who is no longer active in research and he decided to join ResearchGate a few years ago. And he loves it.

    I think source credibility is the reason why ResearchGate is so powerful compared to other online academic collaborative forum like academia.edu. If I remember correctly, in ResearchGate only studies conducted by actual researchers are accepted.

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