ResearchGate is a collaborative platform which connects up scientific researchers, providing them with a better view of who is doing what in their field through exchanges of data, information and results, and so helping to reduce duplication of effort.
In the research world, it is often just as hard to overcome internal barriers as it is to push back the frontiers of scientific discovery. Though it seems obvious that researchers have much to gain from mutual interchange on their subjects of study, there is currently a distinct lack of cooperation between institutes and universities where the scientific work is being carried out. This is a situation that ResearchGate, a network launched five years ago in Boston and now headquartered in Berlin, Germany, set out to overcome, by providing researchers with the necessary collaborative tools. ResearchGate is a collaborative platform created by scientists. The network is a vehicle for publishing studies, working collaboratively and also recruiting talent. Since it was set up in in 2008, ResearchGate has generated considerable appeal and is now showing signs of healthy growth, having recently completed a Series C financing round of $35 million. Bill Gates and Tenaya Capital have joined an already impressive list of investors who appear to be on board for the longer term.
Scientific collaboration: enriching research, reducing redundancy
The ResearchGate network has a range of features designed to encourage exchange of data, information and results, promote scientific research work and not least, according to Ijad Madisch, ResearchGate’s co- founder and CEO, reduce research redundancy, which is today recognized as one of the biggest problems plaguing scientific research, innovation and breakthroughs. The platform allows scientists to share their published work online and access the millions of other research publications available on it. In addition, scientists can obtain statistics on the number of hits, downloads and comments that have been posted on their work. The platform moreover enables interchange with peers and specialists in a given field, thus helping to enrich scientific enquiry and drive progress. One section on the platform publicizes job opportunities listed by research topic. ResearchGate now has close to three million members spread across 131 countries.
Opening up the research world
By encouraging greater openness about scientific investigation being carried out – both the fruitful progress and the dead ends– around the world, the stated aim of ResearchGate is to help speed up scientific progress. Ijad Madisch explained that the new $35 million funding round, which follows Series A and B rounds in 2010 and 2012, would help achieve three main objectives. First and foremost it aims, as Madisch puts it, to “help free knowledge from the Ivory Tower (…) digitise it and make it accessible for everyone in order to accelerate scientific progress.” Secondly, it intends to provide a programming interface so that everyone can develop useful applications to assist scientific collaboration. Last but not least, the new capital will be used to spur development of the company’s paid-for products designed to help share and search for scientific data. This last aspect could hugely improve the dissemination of scientific work, which is today still too often restricted to exchanges between researchers on one project or at one institute.