Facebook for scientists

When I describe UCSF Profiles to friends, I sometimes refer to it as Facebook or LinkedIn for scientists.

But I’m not the only one. All of the following science networking platforms have been compared to either Facebook or LinkedIn for scientists: Nature Network, ResearchGateVivo, Graduate Junction, Epernicus, Laboratree, Academia.edu, ScholarLynk, and iAMscientist. (Phew.)

It’s easy to launch umpteen social networks and make ambitious comparisons. Building real value and adoption is hard—which is why I enjoyed reading “Facebook for Scientists: Requirements and Services for Optimizing How Scientific Collaborations Are Established,” a 2008 paper by a team at the University of Pittsburgh, using standard HCI practices to understand challenges and needs around research collaboration as they were work to build out their Digital|Vita platform for their campus community. As we think about next steps for UCSF Profiles, it helps me to reconnect with the basic needs we’re trying to address, and look at how other projects approach the problem space.

4 thoughts on “Facebook for scientists

  1. The original version of Laboratree created at Indiana University School of Medicine was a social network for scientists with collaboration tools to foster and facilitate research collaboration. Selican Technologies assumed the devlopment of Laboratree in 2009 and changed its focus from a social network for scientists to a web-based platform for research collaboration. Laboratree now is a virtual workspace that facilitates remote research collaboration through document and data management, messaging, and information sharing. The Selican Technologies web site (http://www.selican.com) has more general infomration.

  2. Its really important to not call it facebook for scientits for NCRR/NIH (our funders) – there’s been a bad reaction to it. VIVO is no longer calling itself facebook for scientists. The question that was asked is – if there’s already facebook, why are we investing our $ in a facebook for scientists? And it also completely misses the key value we’re adding – which is all the automated mining from public sources of data.

  3. I agree with Mini’s comment. Scientists and the public equate Facebook with socializing and mistakenly assume anything called a social network is for frivolous interactions. Research networking is a form of social networking but for business purposes. We wrote a blog post on this topic last August: http://blog.selican.com/?p=242.

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