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, ResearchGate, Vivo, 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.