The social networks and resources available to today's educators isn't just limited to the classroom—several sites also tailor their services to meet the needs of research faculty.
Need to find research relevant to a current project? What about faculty with similar interests or expertise, even across multiple disciplines? Would you like to have your peers weigh in on what you've done? These tasks and more can be solved with help from several of the companies listed in our recently launched directory of social networks and resources for educators. (Have you checked it out yet?)
Some of these networks serve purely professional networking functions while others provide discussion groups and a helpful desktop app or offer a fundraising platform, but all six provide a range of solutions to meet researchers' needs.
COST: Free to propose a project
The crowdfunding platform iAMscientist is essentially a Kickstarter for research projects. Donors to proposed projects typically receive tokens of gratitude like signed books or patent options, though members must first be invited and are usually from science, engineering and medicine backgrounds. It’s free to use, though like Kickstarter, a percentage-based fee is applied to successfully funded projects.
COST: Free, but with additional services available for institutions
Professional social network Epernicus allows research scientists to create profiles and connect with past and present colleagues. More importantly, the site allows researchers to locate others who possess the skills and expertise required for current projects. Members can label their assets, materials and methods, labeling their competency level in each, and questions can be posted on the site’s discussion board, BenchQ.
COST: Free with premium options available
An academic social network and reference management tool, Mendeley also provides researchers with a desktop application for managing citations and PDF files. Many of the site’s members are doctoral students working on long-term group projects, though the site is open to all researchers. The site’s primary goal is to provide free and open source material to academic researchers.
Zotero assists researchers in more easily evaluating sources. The tool offers a variety of interactive and tagging features that work on both personal and community levels. Among its features are open source reference management software that assists in the management of bibliographic data and other materials. In Zotero Groups, you can share work or sources, collaborate publicly or privately on ongoing projects and find other researchers with similar interests.
The founders of Academia.edu set out to accelerate the world’s research, and their platform allows academics to share and follow the most up-to-date research from those in their field. An on-site analytics dashboard also allows users to keep track of their page views, keywords used to find their content and what countries readers are located in. The site now has over 3.8 million registered members.
Also featured on our list of 6 social networks that can make you better at your education job, ResearchGate is a professional social network focused on scientists and scholars in engineering, medicine and biology. Users can create profile pages, ask and answer questions, post job listings, create groups, share their papers and find collaborators. The site also encourages the sharing of raw data and both successful and failed experiments—and it even assigns an “RG Score” as a reputation metric for resources.
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