Academic Social Networks (ASNs) refer to specific sites set-up for researchers to share, collaborate and connect. The most established of these are ResearchGate and Academia.edu. These are generic sites – Humanities Commons is set-up specifically for scholars in the Arts & Humanities.
The purpose of them can broadly be broken down into three areas:
- Networking (colloboration, scholarly debate, looking for research projects, looking for researcher positions)
- Sharing Content (own research and others, newsfeeds, developments in research)
- Boosting Profile (Increasing citations, awareness of research, position within community)
However, when we are thinking about managing your academic profile it is not only done on these dedicated academic sites. Mainstream social media is often a more effective way of engaging (especially if the purpose is to go beyond the academy). Also, sites such as LinkedIn provide the functionality to share publications.
Google Scholar draws in its content through web-crawling but there is the option to have a user created profile here. Doing this may give you slightly more control over how your research is consumed.
Reference managers – EndNote, Zotero, Mendeley – give you the opportunity to share research – your own or others. Mendeley in particular has a lot of networking functionality and is trying to compete with ResearchGate and Academia.edu in this regard.
There are also Pirate Sites (most notably SciHub) that are principly concerned with file sharing for research. Much of their activity is illegal but they do represent a radical approach to dissemination of research.