The Scientist’s Network

Scientists at Work

WBUR’s Curt Nickish did a great story this morning on the development of ResearchGate, a social network for scientists that allows researchers from all over the world to discuss problems, brainstorm, and generally (hopefully) speed up the pace of scientific discovery.

He tells the story of Ijad Madisch, the German-born Harvard research fellow who founded ResearchGate:

…unlike Facebook, it wasn’t supposed to be about reconnecting with the kid who sat next to you in organic chemistry in college. Instead, it’s for sharing knowledge and practices with peers, to make ‘doing science’ more productive…

Of the more than 800,000 people who have signed up as ResearchGate members, one is Caroline Moore-Kochlacs, a Boston University neuroscientist.

Moore-Kochlacs said those other social networks, Facebook and LinkedIn, are great, but not for getting science done. On those sites, she said, people feel like they have to be clever, or if they ask questions, it’s what camera to buy for going on vacation.

“They’re never anything to do with science,” she said, even though a third of her LinkedIn contacts are scientists.

Moore-Kochlacs likes ResearchGate because she can ask questions, like what reagent to use in a certain chemical reaction. She said she can also find out what labs are working on before they publish. Or, she said, just get up to date on what people have published.

But what started in Boston is no longer, Nickish reports, because the “high rents and high salaries aren’t worth it.” The company is now headquartered in Berlin.