From The Science Student Council
Academic social networking websites
By Joshua C. Palmer and Justin Strickland
last two decades, the development of new and readily accessible means of
communication, particularly the growth of social networking platforms,
have changed the way we view the world and interact with others.
Individuals now have the unprecedented opportunities to connect with
peers and colleagues, seek out new information and disseminate new ideas
to the broader public. For the scientific community, social networking
platforms provide a low-cost way to create a personal brand or identity
(Dutta, 2010) and develop a professional online presence (Donelan,
2015). In this article, we will discuss the benefits of managing your
online presence in order to leverage social networking platforms to
advance your scientific endeavors and professional career.
Become an active contributor on ResearchGate, Academia.edu and Google ScholarA variety of academic social networking platforms, including ResearchGate, Academia.edu and Google Scholar,
have gained popularity over the past decade (Ovadia, 2014). A common
capability of many of these academic social networking websites is to
provide an online repository to which users can upload and share
research papers. Below, we describe in detail the functionality of some
of these academic social networking websites and their relative benefits
for professional development.
ResearchGate is an academic social networking
website that gives researchers the option to upload journal articles,
conference papers, posters, data and code to an online repository. This
can be particularly useful for locating conference materials such as
posters and slide decks that are not archived in other online databases.
ResearchGate users also receive analytics on their publications
including the number of times their papers have been read and cited by
other users on ResearchGate.
ResearchGate provides community interaction features that help distinguish it from other platforms. Users can:
- Ask questions within the academic community regarding measures,
constructs or topics and respond to questions posed by other users.
- Opt to follow other researchers and receive notifications when they upload new work.
- Contact other users through the ResearchGate direct messaging system.
- Request authors upload full versions of their papers using the “request full text button”.
- Directly contact readers of their publications to request feedback.
that can be used to update peers on current projects, attract potential
co-authors or request submissions for journal special issues.
Academia.edu is a similar resource that allows users
to create a personal profile, upload papers, request feedback, follow
researchers, send personal messages to other researchers and view
analytics on your papers. Users on Academia.edu can also import contacts
from Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and Google to find colleagues who already
have Academia.edu profiles, thus connecting many different networking
Before using these services, however, it is important for researchers
to check the archiving policies for each journal before choosing to
upload or share papers; if researchers upload a journal publication that
violates these copyright policies, they may receive a takedown notice
from the publisher (Howard, 2013). Specifically, researchers should
check their publishing agreement, which can often be found on the
journal’s website or in email correspondence. The SHERPA/RoMEO
journal database also contains a search tool where researchers can look
up publishers' copyright policies regarding authors archiving
publications online. Fortunately, of the 2,318 published articles listed
in the SHERPA/RoMEO, 80 percent allow at least some form of
self-archiving (e.g., either preprint or postprint; SHERPA, 2017).
Google Scholar provides a search engine that can be
used to identify hyperlinks to articles that are publically available or
may be obtained through institutional libraries. Users who choose to
create a personal Google Scholar profile can access their citations per
year metrics. Articles uploaded on ResearchGate, Academia.edu or other
databases can also be linked to your Google Scholar profile so that
readers can find hyperlinks to all of your work. Google Scholar also has
a “Scholar Button” that users can install on Chrome, Firefox or Safari
web browsers to quickly search for articles without typing in a web
address (one can download this button by clicking the "Setting" button
on their Google Scholar homepage, then selecting Button on the sidebar
to the left). If you have questions about how to use Google Scholar to
conduct a literature search, check out the article “Literature search tips and tricks” from the November 2016 issue of Psychological Science Agenda
(Mumper, 2016). Google Scholar also compiles a list of top publications
in each discipline based on journal impact (users can access data by
clicking the "Metrics" button on their Google Scholar homepage).
Using other social networking platforms to market yourselfOther, more traditional forms of social networking, such as Twitter or LinkedIn,
can also be used to manage one’s online presence, promote research and
form new professional connections (Ovadia, 2013). Although these
platforms are usually viewed as informal means of communication, they
may also be used to interact with other researchers and disseminate
research to a broader public audience. To see how psychologists have
used Twitter to build their online presence, check out the British
Psychological Society’s (2015) list of the 100 Most Followed Psychologists and Neuroscientists on Twitter
and Paul Thoresen’s (2015) list of 80 #IOPsych Pros to Follow on Twitter.
Professional networking websites, such as LinkedIn (and in some cases
students’ university website profiles), can be used to upload your
curriculum vitae, highlight your research interests and previous
accomplishments. However, it is also important to show that you are a
person (i.e., not a research cyborg) with interests outside of
research/professional activities. Some of these interests (e.g.,
volunteer work) can be highlighted on these professional networking
websites and provide the opportunity to present yourself as a
Lastly and most importantly, be mindful of the public content you
post on social media (particularly Facebook and Twitter). In all
likelihood, having a strong positive online presence alone will not
result in landing your dream job (usually, this requires a combination
of knowledge, hard work, productivity, social skill and luck). However,
not filtering the public content on your social networking platforms may
cause universities or companies to think twice before hiring you when
you are on the job market (see Brown & Vaughn, 2011; Smith &
There is no denying that technological and communication advances
have changed the way we make connections and access information.
Face-to-face interaction is still crucial, but social networking has, in
a way, “changed the rules of the game.” Platforms such as ResearchGate,
Academia.edu, Google Scholar, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can be
utilized to create a personal brand, disseminate scientific findings and
connect with researchers worldwide.
on the (Facebook) wall: The use of social networking sites in hiring
decisions. Journal of Business and Psychology, 26(2), 219-225.
The 100 most followed Psychologists and Neuroscientists on Twitter [Blog
post]. Retrieved Jan. 12, 2017, from https://digest.bps.org.uk/2015/11/06/the-100-most-followed-psychologists-and-neuroscientists-on-twitter/.
About the authorsJoshua
C. Palmer is the industrial/organizational representative to the APA
Science Student Council. He is a first-year doctoral student at Florida
C. Strickland is the biopsychology representative on the APA Student
Science Council. He is a third-year graduate student at the University
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or policies of APA.
Academic social networking websites