Academic social-networking tools

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I attended an in-house best practice session on academic social-networking tools, including Postgraduate Toolbox; Research Gate; and, as i was interested to see how they could be useful for our postgrad students looking for a career.


Postgraduate Toolbox:

  • provides a range of useful information for the new Postgrad student
  • advice on getting published, proof-reading, networking
  • one-stop-shop
  • advice on poster sessions at conferences, and examples of posters
  • PhD students can add to the blog
  • includes some blogs on careers

I like how this one is a sort of ‘knowledge base’ in itself; you can get a lot of information out of it without having to befriend anyone; comapred to the other two which are more about sharing papers and making connections.


Research Gate:

  • search for conferences / jobs
  • has a strong science bias
  • search for researchers
  • live feed – like facebook; by discipline keywords
  • can post your own notes, etc
  • jobs
  • doesn’t share or sell data, and you can delete after closing account
  • patents problem – talk to your superviser first

Homepage states:

For Scientists.

Connect with researchers,
make your work visible
and stay current.

There is also a pie-chart, which shows that Medicine and Biology are the largest portion of users. So, could certainly be of use to our team for Life and Environmental Sciences students. Unfortunately it seems that you have to sign in to take a look at it.

  • news feed
  • can follow people / interests
  • upload papers
  • ask a question
  • update status
  • can view people by department they have affiliated to
  • your paper will appear in their newsfeed if you tagged it with an interest
  • stats: profile views, articles
  • 45% humanities on here (cf. the other sites)
  • copyright / licensing issues –> not as obvious to the academics as to the library staff

This one seems to be more useful when you have made connections and follow people or specialisms, otherwise it just tends to look like a very old Facebook; compared to Postgraduate Toolbox which is a wealth of information that you can just read.


I can see that these tools would be useful for postgrads to publicise their research and get their name known. Also to look for jobs and conferences worth attending.

There are issues, though, with the fact they do allow you to upload papers on your research – copyright issues, or if you want to patent the research, so it was advised it was probably best to talk to your supervisor before uploading certain papers.

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