Just a Click Away

A Social Network for Researchers

By Dan Florell

Volume 44 Issue 5

By Dan Florell

Researchers spend a great deal of time reviewing journal databases, collecting and analyzing data, writing articles, and presenting at conferences. All of the time and energy spent on the research leads the researcher to believe that others will be as interested in her area of research as she is. However, this may not be the case.

A long time ago, I had the chance to talk with Jerome Sattler, PhD, about his early experience in academia. He told me that he was so excited to get his first journal article published. Back in the era before widespread computer use and e-mails, authors were asked to order reprints of their articles so they could send them out if other researchers requested them.

Dr. Sattler remarked that he talked with a more seasoned colleague about getting his article published and how many reprints to order. His inclination was to order at least 100 reprints. His colleague told him to order five and be grateful if he received that many requests. Dr. Sattler told me his colleague had been right, there were few requests for reprints of his article.

For years, researchers had little idea of how many people were reading their research or if the research was making much of an impact. This has changed with the advent of Research Gate, a social network that is explicitly set up for researchers from a variety of disciplines to collaborate and share their work.

Research Gate allows researchers to post their publications to their profile. The site will even automatically update publications if coauthors post it on their profiles. Once publications are posted, Research Gate will indicate how many times the publication has been read and if it has been cited in other publications.

Research Gate goes further in allowing researchers to see where they and their publications stand in the overall field through an RG Score which measures scientific reputation and is based on the publications in the researcher’s profile and how other researchers interact with the content. If a researcher is feeling competitive, the RG Score will provide her with a way to compare herself to others.

Of course, research is about the pursuit of knowledge and not just tracking its impact. Research Gate encourages interaction among researchers. The site suggests other researchers to follow based on their publications and interests. The active prompting to make these connections can be a valuable avenue toward introducing researchers and allowing for possible collaboration down the road. When a researcher follows someone, Research Gate will then provide notification of new work they have published. In some cases, researchers will even make the full article available to download.

Another way that Research Gate encourages interaction among researchers is by allowing them to ask and answer questions in a public forum. Based on the researcher’s profile, interests, and publications, Research Gate will feature questions that have been asked that the researcher might be able to provide answers to. It also allows searching for previous questions and answers. All of this can significantly cut down on the time it takes to get research projects started.

Another resource that is available for research is Google Scholar. Scholar has become more difficult to find on the Google page, but it is still there. Scholar scours the Internet for publicly available journal articles. It allows users to save articles to a My Library folder so they can be accessed later. In many ways, Google Scholar has provided many of the same functions as the major journal databases except that it is free. This can be a very useful resource for school psychologists in the field who don’t have access to university journal databases.

A recent addition to Scholar allows users to create a Scholar Profile and track all citations of their articles. Scholar will also automatically update any of the researchers’ publications it comes across. While not as robust as the services Research Gate offers, Scholar is worth keeping an eye on.

While not all school psychologists are directly involved in research, both Research Gate and Google Scholar can still provide some benefit. This is due to the easy access to high quality journal articles that practitioners can apply to their work in the schools. Using these resources in addition to the NASP online journals, School Psychology Review and School Psychology Forum, will help practicing school psychologists to be better informed and more effective in their jobs.

Dan Florell, PhD, NCSP, an assistant professor in the school psychology program at Eastern Kentucky University and a contributing editor for Communiqué