Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Tech Bite: Social network site for scientists and researchers

A fortnight ago I had a chat with a former principal of a school which was once known as the best in Mathematics and Science in my beloved township of Daveyton, east of Johannesburg. During our chat the retired principal often mentioned the importance of  Mathematics and Science and how both learning areas are crucial for our country. We further went on with our chat touching on science education and how the landscape has changed and influenced bytechnology, which brings me to today’s feature on ResearchGate, a social network site for scientists and researchers.

IjadMadisch started ResearchGate in 2008 round-about the same year as its competitor with the aim to change the scientific method. Madisch isn’t changing the techniques used by scientists to investigate matters related to science, but introducing a space where scientists who mostly work offline to share data, information and results online through his creation. What this means is be it a private or public sector physician, researcher or even an educator involved within the discipline of science you are afforded the opportunity to join other professionals across the globe.

Monetizing such a social network could be a tricky task and days ago the science social site landed a $35 million financial backing from Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Tenaya Capital with participation from Dragoneer investment Group and Thrive Capital. With such investments this allows ResearchGate to further spread its wings.

Since its inception the start-up has gained some significant traction and grown to more than 2.8 million members across the planet in 130 countries with 30 percent users logging in once per month, not bad considering that ResearchGate has its own niche.

With sites such as Mendeley and that operate similarly also looking to grow and penetrate the scientific sphere there clearly is no time for complacency, and I am sure with the type of investment oiled in, Mr Madisch knows how demanding the venture will be.

Ashley Mokwena

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