I never thought science as something that would become part of the twenty-first century phenomenon of social networking. But this has apparently become a new form of academic “outreach” in our connected world. So long Ivory Tower! This new scientific social network is called ResearchGate and was started in Berlin with three partners in 2008. Now they have signed up 12 million scientists, or about 60 percent of all such potential users worldwide.
Researchers upload roughly 2.5 million papers to ResearchGate every month. In comparison, scientists added the same amount of research over the first four years of the network’s operation. ResearchGate has also taken advantage of the growing trend across the scientific world to open up to the wider public and take advantage of technology like machine learning to conduct projects across borders and faster. The network is not alone in making science more transparent and open. Cancer researchers, for instance, recently created a video game that allows people to participate in the crunching of complex data on their smartphones by guiding a “spacecraft” along paths based on genetic sequencing from breast cancer patients.
I can remember going to science labs in high school and working in assigned teams (hopefully with people you liked who were also smarter and shared their expertise). At that time, sharing was not always seen as a way of learning how science works.