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Durham University

University Library

Scholarly Collaboration Networks

For many researchers, Academic Social Networks (or Scholarly Collaboration Networks (SCNs)) form an important part of maintaining an online presence, although how and why researcher’s use such networks varies. The information on this page provides some signposts to how other academics use SCNs, and a selection of those available.

Why do academics use scholarly collaboration networks?

How and why academic users use SCNs varies from user to user, and the reasons one academic uses a particular SCN over time may change dependent upon a variety of circumstances and temporary motivations. Reasons can include:

  • Promoting your own research.
  • Providing a means for others to get in touch with you (as you may move from institution to institution, and institutional, project group, lab or other email or profile pages may change, or even personal web pages lapse or become difficult to maintain).
  • Discovering and reading new research.
  • Sharing your own research publications and other outputs.
  • Engaging and commenting in online discussions around subjects, methodology and research best practice.
  • Following (passively) ongoing academic discussions.
  • Discovering and applying for employment opportunities within and outside of academia.
  • Data collection for research

Below are a number of articles or results from surveys which have looked at how and why academics engage with social media and SCNs.

Nature Social Media Survey 2014: Permission to re-use on licence (licence number 4163640564907)

Nature Social Media Survey 2014: Permission to re-use on licence (licence number 4163640564907)

Springer/Nature Social Media Survey 2017: Data available under CC-BY 4.0 licence

Popular Scholarly Collaboration Networks

Below we have provided a short overview of some of the most commonly used SCNs.



ResearchGate was founded in 2008, and now boasts over 15 million members worldwide. It is free to join, and free to leave, and allows you to create and build on online profile, visible to other academic and commercial researchers, to share knowledge, expertise and scientific outputs. You can see who's been reading and citing your work within ResearchGate, engage in discussions by asking and answering questions, and explore and apply for research jobs advertised within the site.

Please note that on Thursday 5th October 2017, the Coalition for Responsible Sharing, which represents publishers including Elsevier, American Chemical Society, Wiley, Brill and Wolters Kluwer, released a press statement indicating they would be issuing formal take-down notices to ResearchGate to remove materials posted in breach of copyright agreements signed with publishers. This will include scholarly articles posted by authors to their ResearchGate profiles. On the 13th June 2019 the group published their second status update on ResearchGate's copyright compliance status. Similar action was taken in 2013 by Elsevier targeting articles posted to and other sites which were viewed by the publisher of having ben posted in breach of copyright agreements with the publisher, as copyright holder.

A platform to allow researchers to share their research outputs with other academics, with a company mission to "accelerate the world's research," has over 95 million members worldwide, and provides access to over 23 million research papers.

A study published in 2016 suggested that papers made available via attracted on average 16% more citations after one year compared to papers published but not accessible from This reflects a similar 'citation advantage' reported of many papers made 'open access', but Durham authors should note that is not an open access repository, that making your research paper available via does not meet the open access requirements of most funders, and may breach copyright agreements you have with your publisher.



LinkedIN is an online professional network with over 400 million members worldwide. Whilst ResearchGate and Academia have a strong focus (and membership base) amongst the academic and wider research community, LinkedIN can help you raise your online profile and visibility around your research expertise and output to commercial, public sector and third sector employers, collaborators and potential beneficiaries.

Other online networks

In addition to some of the more widely used SCNs, some of the following platforms may be of interest for similar purposes.



Kudos is a free to use platform for academic authors. It claims to be "the only platform dedicated to dissemination across the multiple networks and channels available to researchers for sharing information about their work," and works with publishers, universities, research funders, metrics providers and commercial and not-for-profit organisations to help researchers build and track impact for their work.

Kudos provides a simple toolkit to support authors in communicating their research to a broad audience, using plain language and recommending appropriate communication channels.


My Experiment

myExperiment aims to provide a collaborative environment for scientists to share workflows and simulated experiments, and to find those of others.

Social Bookmarking

Social Bookmarking sites (aimed at allowing users to save and organise useful web pages and sources they find online) have evolved significantly over the years, and increasingly have become closer to operating as SCNs themselves, allowing you to browse, search and share your sources with others. See our page on social bookmarking sites for further information.

Tracking your online footprint

Researcher's are under increasing pressure to be able to evidence who is reading their research, and how it is being used. Having some visibility of who is reading and sharing your research, and how, can provide some pathways towards identifying and developing impact, or simply identifying potential collaborators for future projects. The below links may be of interest.

  • Bibliometrics - tracking who has cited your work through traditional citation based metrics.
  • Altmetrics - tracking who has tweeted or posted about your published work on social media, who has saved it to an online reference library, if it is has been cited in an online blog or news story or if it has been referenced on Wikipedia or another online source..

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